Sunday, February 28, 2016

Keep your eyes on Japan

Hi folks- I'm still here, and still very much want this blog to keep going.  I appreciate your sticking with me.

As I've mentioned in the past couple years, it has become a problem for me to find a topic I can write about without being depressing- when I don't think either you or I need that.

But now that it's no longer a question of "is climate change happening", nor "are world politics getting entirely out of hand" - I find it's actually a little easier to focus on what to say.

I want - if possible - to be one of those who survive.  As a lifelong student of evolution, opting out of survival is how you certainly "lose the game."  If there's a game.  If you can win or lose.

And I hope to bring family and community through, too.  Now the question is "how?"  Because there are no roadmaps; our species and planet are moving into completely unknown territory; we truly do not know what happens next.

One thing I know for certain today (I know something for certain!  How cool is that!) is that most of the world events generating headlines do not come from "new" phenomena, though they are virtually always spun that way by the sophomores in charge of the press.  Income disparity?  Has existed in all societies, in all eras back to Babylon and Sumer - literally.  And has always caused injustice, pain, and slaughter.  Slavery?  Same.  Corrupt officials/police?  Same.  Schools not teaching what students need?  You can find that complaint on clay tablets in cuneiform - really.  Unwelcome, unstoppable, migrants?  Ever heard of Romans?  Hittites/ Mongols/ Europeans? War/ Genocide?  It goes on.  Even climate change and sea level rise; take a look at Doggerland, called "Britain's Atlantis" in the popular press.  That happened so far back we remember as myth- although Australian Aborigines have re-told the story for 10,000 years without losing accuracy.

The point.  The point is that history, available to us all, contains myriad examples we should be learning from.  Mostly, of course humans refuse to learn from history.  I have 2 favorite quotes on that point, the first from Aldous Huxley, "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach."  Stolen from many sources, usually less wordy, into antiquity.  And a currently popular version, cheerfully sent to me via Facebook, from Spice: "Some of us can learn from other people's mistakes; but most of us just have to piss on the electric fence."  That was stolen from Will Rogers, the earliest wise man with electric fence available for metaphors.

All of history, now that "the google" is here, is at your fingertips.  It's fascinating, highly educational, and tremendously entertaining.  Particularly all the mutually incompossible versions.  I recommend it.

Which finally brings us to Japan.

Japan is unique among "developed" nations, in many ways; but most importantly: A) It is an island- which I pointed out years back would be the first places to be forced to change.  B) It was the top economy on the planet- 20 years ago, and is in decline now.  C) Achieved the highest "standard of living" for the largest percentage of population ever.  D) Is losing population, around 1 million in the past 5 years.  And E) Emerged so recently and directly from feudalism that the people still actively remember most of their pre-industrial culture.  Oh, and lived through "The Atomic Age" - and are now struggling to leave it behind.

Japan is 10-30 years ahead of the curve for the rest of the industrialized countries, in politics and economics and every other aspect of our species I can identify.  They've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and have worn the t-shirt into rags.

The populace is still stunningly wealthy by world standards; but the future is frightening, downhill tracks are everywhere.  Old and young are worried and depressed to the point of suicide and craziness.

We can see all those problems and tendencies in our own backyards.  But Japan is out in front.  If you want some hint of what is likely coming to the communities near you - watch Japan.

Remember it is what is written between the lines that is most important.  Always.

And keep the incredible variety of wildly enthusiastic Japanese festivals in mind.  They don't know what the future holds - so -

I do like the metaphors available in that photo.  It's dark, and it's cold.  But there are lights, with some warmth.  And people - tending them.  And these lights are facing in all different directions.