Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's it for?

This morning as my husband was heading out the door he handed me the paper and said, "Be sure to show the moose the robot plane." Our son is newly interested in robotics. I showed him the the photo saying it was a plane that flew all by itself  as an "unmanned combat aircraft of the future." My daughter asked, "What's it for?" I replied, "it's for hurting people ultimately." I walked back into the kitchen to finish making obento. Hmm, in the name of peace we create a lot of things that hurt people. I felt a vague discomfort. I tell my children constantly that there is absolutely no excuse ever for hurting someone. When I returned to the table I found the tape applied to the photo. I understood her difficulty. The world doesn't need more of this stuff. I liked that she knew to do something about it- a rebel for peace in the making, hopefully. I sometimes sit back overwhelmed by the volume of choices and the larger forces at work, doing and saying nothing about the war path the world is on. Where and how to intervene in these larger forces is beyond me so I instead try to instill the golden rule. It seems every major religion has a golden rule, but it is so seldom exercised at a public policy level. Politics in general could use a good dose of the golden rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The paper didn't let me down. It also had this on the bottom of the front page- a description of a type of solar thermoelectric power plant that uses compressed air instead of steam to generate electricity. I hope when it comes to fruition it lands on the top half of the paper too. My son also loves electric cars.

This past weekend each member of my family participated in carrying a mikoshi portable Shinto shrine around Kamakura. My husband's weighed as much as a car where as the kid's mikoshi was much smaller. They wore Japanese festival happi coats and enjoyed participating in the community. The shinto festival reminded me of the more massive Christian processions of Semana Santa I attended in Spain- perhaps reflecting the value of parading religious objects around in the community in both cultures. At first I thought of the mikoshi as a pagan event that offered a chance to participate in the community. Many Japanese friends tell me that they are not Shinto or Buddhist, but they participate in these kinds of events anyway. I see it more as a spiritual experience worthy of participation enhanced by the community spirit. If we can grow from the experience even a little and it asks only good things from us then it is worth a try. Of course my husband does have soft tissue damage on his shoulder.

I think our collective spirits are our best hope for taking care of each other in the face of war, poverty, and differences. Perhaps with a nourished spirit we can be more generous and selfless with each other.