Blog (03 Dec 2008)

First things first — I admit the posts aren’t coming at a pace as they once did before I went to Honolulu for a translation conference at Hawaii Dendocho (Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of Hawaii).

The trip and the conference itself were not bad at all (it was nice seeing friendly familiar faces I had not seen for some time); it was returning and catching up to everything once I came back that threw me in a loop for a while. I will eventually get to the “Post-26 Reports” for October and November 2008. I was mulling over stopping this monthly feature altogether, but I figured better late than never. So they will be coming. I can’t say soon but hopefully before the year ends.

Nevertheless, a funny thing happened in November…. Although I only posted a total of 5 times last month, I had more visits in November compared to October (when I posted 14 times). I partly attribute this to last month’s “Recent Questions” (since renamed Ask the Tenrikyologist); I always seem to get an uptick in visits a month after each Recent Questions article I post.

Still, this started to make me wonder if I ought to scale back my pace to concentrate more on content quality over quantity…. but I think I ought to try to keep a steady pace with my posts. I fear that once I start slacking off too much, I will get used to posting at a snail’s pace. There’s so much work to be done; I need be more relentless with posting on a regular basis. And maybe I’ll have more original work vs. translations starting in 2009.

Well, enough with small stuff. On to larger issues.

Are we on the verge of global (economic or otherwise) collapse?

I have noticed in the past several weeks that my living in Tenri and working for Tenrikyo Church Headquarters insulates me from the wider world much more than I have realized. When the subprime crisis hit, it didn’t really click with me. The same was the case with last month’s events with the credit crunch, which lead to the $700 billion bank bailout from the Fed.

It was only during the past couple of weeks after catching up with events through Time and Newsweek that I actually begun to appreciate the severity of what’s going on out there. It’s still far from clear whether the pro-active response from Western governments to “recapitalize” portions of the economy is really going to stabilize things; a prolonged recession is maybe the best hope we have at this moment.

Then the terror in Bombay hit…. the Japanese press referred to the situation as “dōji tero” — which I summarily translate here as “simultaneously-occurring/synchronized terrorist incidents” (9-11, by the way was christened by the same Japanese press as “dōji tahatsu tero” with “tahatsu” giving a further sense of “occurring at multiple sites”). While this is of course not the first time India has been struck by terrorism, the Bombay attacks and subsequent hostage crisis does mark an incident unprecedented in scale where the terrorists appeared to specifically target non-Indians as well.

When I first saw the headlines in the newspaper, I assumed it was the work of a homegrown, militant Islamist group (a trend that has been festering for some time), but my judgment may have been premature. There have been suggestions that some if not all the terrorists were non-Indians who “pretended” they were Indian. Nevertheless, the attacks are devastating all the same. Will this incident mark a turning point for India or even for South Asia as a whole? I can only hold my breath and pray there is no escalation in violence in the region; there has been too much already over the last six decades.

But to give my response to the question I posed above…. I guess I consider myself a reluctant optimist. No matter how bad things may seem to get, there are many signs pointing to overall progress of the human condition. While admittedly, the human species is still very much a work in progress, humans have proven to be resilient in face of crisis before. Even if the world as-we-know it may collapse in the near or not-so-near future, I would like to think we will come out of it stronger and wiser as a result.

Or is that being too hopeful? It is one thing to see the glass half-full. It is yet another to see an empty glass and be cheered enough to say, “Can I have another drink?” I have the feeling the world will be gradually rebuilt by those who see an empty glass as an opportunity to initiate positive change and growth.