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My Highlight for 2015

In Paris I was the only Sustaining All Life member from Japan. I expected to meet Japanese people from other organizations, but there seemed to be few organizations from Japan. After returning to Japan from Paris, I learned that many Japanese organizations had cancelled their participation because of the November 13 terrorist attacks.

I guess people felt frightened. I was also scared of going to Paris, but I had the support of Sustaining All Life members as well as support groups and sessions in my Community. In this way I was able to discharge before my departure the fear restimulated by the terrorism. If I had not done that, I would have been hesitant to go.

I noticed that the more I discharged, the more my decision to go to Paris strengthened. We understand that terrorism happens because of racism and genocide, and it was important to bring that understanding to Paris. I also realized that I would be working with Sustaining All Life members who would understand and listen to my fears when I became restimulated and would know that after discharge I could think and act intelligently.

Working with this team helped me experience safety and the benign universe—while facing the challenge of my loneliness, shyness, fear, and timidity in speaking in English to people whom I had never met before. I was not alone. I could see other RCers who were also challenging their distresses. We all could see the goal, which is to end all oppressions. And we cared deeply about the environment.

The following is an experience I had at a listening project* at Gare du Nord, a big station in Paris:

I was holding a signboard that said, “How do you think the oppressions (sexism, racism, ageism, and so on) affect the climate movement? We want to listen.” A young African-heritage man, a non-native speaker of English, stopped in front of me. He seemed a bit upset. He said, “Racism is the color of skin. (He pointed to his face.) Black skin! (He looked at the white man who was walking by.) White skin. That is racism. Climate is (he pointed up at the sky) the weather. So racism and climate are different. This is my contribution.”

What he said reminded me of when I first heard “the environment and racism.” My mind was completely blank. I could not find a connection between them. For me they were totally different things. Somehow I was very scared. Finally, after having sessions, I realized that the connection was the war and the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It was so scary to look at that I could not talk about it at all, but if I wanted to talk about “the environment and racism,” I could not avoid it. I felt that if I spoke out, Japan might be bombed again. And I needed to speak out, in English, in front of people of the United States.

I had to discharge a lot. I found that if I didn’t discharge enough, I would get a bad toothache at night. And I don’t even have bad teeth. Eventually I could talk about the connection between the environment and the atomic bomb blasts. And I could talk about the Fukushima nuclear disaster as also being related to the atomic bombs, without blaming anybody.

I told my story at the workshop Reclaiming the World: The Environment and People Raised Poor and Working Class. I talked about my father, who died at age sixty after working in a factory his whole life in bad conditions. I talked about my home, Aomori Prefecture. High- and low-level nuclear wastes are buried all through Rokkasho village. I talked about how hard we all had worked protesting the nuclear facilities—the fishermen and their wives, the farmers, and we activists working together. I talked with tears as I remembered my working-class people. The participants listened to me eagerly.

Going to Paris as a Sustaining All Life delegate is my highlight for 2015, and these memories are my treasure.

Wako Ono

Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido, Japan

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders in the care of the environment

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

* In an RC listening project, several Co-Counselors go to a public place and offer to listen to passersby about some important issue, such as racism or the environment. They may hold signs that invite people to share their thinking about that issue.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00