I was raised with a Japanese grandmother, Akiko. Though not my actual grandmother, she still felt closer to me than my maternal one. I felt a spiritual linkage with her that I never had with my New Zealand grandmother. I loved both dearly but felt calmer and more supported by Akiko. She had a natural urge to help people, regardless of their situation, witnessing her interaction with others, especially the least fortunate in society, primed me considerably as an adolescent and helped mould the world view which I still hold dear today. ‘It isn’t that some people are better than others, it is that some people are luckier than most’ that’s how she would explain the obvious iniquity in the world. I realised from a young age that this world wasn’t fair, but also knew that we could collectively do something to mitigate these glaring lifestyle disparities. One was taxes. Which in Germany, whilst growing up in the 1980s, were among the highest in the world, especially for the most well-off financially. Yet still it was a necessity, so as to curb the inexplicably grotesque phenomenon evident in any capitalist society that people who have a lot of money, would somehow surreptitiously make even more, without even breaking a sweat. The pathological nature of investment banking, fortified during this era in the western world, was one of the major ills that paved the way to the multiple recessions and financial earthquakes experienced since. On the dawn of a new tax revision system in the USA, I think it is important we heed Akiko’s words once more.
This world isn’t fair, fortune strikes and disaster takes away. We have the ability to spread the odds by ensuring that everyone is adequately taken care of. The Japanese people have proven that even in the depths of calamity and despair, a nation can come together and eliminate narcissistic tendencies coupled to self-survival and proliferation, and instead can hold their hands collectively and take care of the less fortunate. Why is it that we need disaster to happen in order for us to radiate how uniquely caring and loving we can be as humans? It doesn’t have to be like this, just listen to Akiko. Not only does the planet need us at the moment, our own people do too. The Hawaiian monk seal is not going to be around in 20 years, so at least for her sake, let’s ensure the survival and contentment of all humans, disregarding status, creed, colour or race. In some bizarre way, I think laziness is the key. There is too much focus on being industrious in the modern world. Think about it, lazy people don’t start wars, but they certainly end them. So bless the lazy slackers, for they may just be the next step in our evolutionary progression and, in turn, save our planet.