Awakening to a way of living life (Section II, Part 2)
Transcript from a talk (Translated from Japanese)
National egoism that blocks solution of the many problems
Until the present, in most countries of the world, national egoism has controlled and led the way and future of the country overall.
For example, world conferences on environmental problems are held often. However, each country mainly focuses on how much of an advantage it can get for itself, and this is based on national egoism. So, because of conflicts among the nations and bargaining tactics, truly desirable results have not been achieved.
Europe is working relatively actively on environmental issues. The problem is with the economic giants, the U.S. and Japan. Both countries have a negative attitude, and they still have not changed their stance of giving economic interests as high priority as possible. Further, China and India claim that because they are still developing countries, they would like the developed countries to act properly first. They are also taking a backward-looking stance.
In the end, it is conflicts and bargaining tactics among the nations. Where does this come from? It comes from having a fundamental policy of national egoism, or caring only about your own country’s interests.
On the surface, the countries say that international cooperation is important. In some ways, perhaps they think it is the way things should be. However, in their true intentions, or as their standard of behavior and actual behavior, the policy of the major countries of the world is national egoism. This is the point that is most strongly emphasized in my book, “Beyond National Egoism.”
National egoism increases individual egoism
Through national egoism, the egoism of individual people and businesses increases. For this reason, people’s desires for material things increase, and competition among businesses becomes intense. Along with that, the science and technology civilization rapidly develops. As a result, wars grow in size and this further advances science and technology. The overall result is that the present human society is facing dead ends in many ways.
The main points of “Beyond National Egoism”
Probably some of you have already read the book, but I would like to go over the main points of “Beyond National Egoism” again.
From group egoism to national egoism
Since the early stages of the appearance of humans on earth, we humans have formed groups for security and self-defense, and have lived within these groups as the basic unit for actions. In addition, from some point in history, we have worked hard for the prosperity of the group to which we belong, and risked our lives to fight for the group’s survival when our group faced a life or death crisis.
At first, it was probably for safety and self-defense, but we began to conquer and dominate other groups in order to get more reliable security and self-defense. As a result, the groups increased in scale from small groups to large groups, small tribes to large tribes, and small nations to nations. The nation is the unit for actions in our present international society.
Prosperity and survival of one’s own country
Over the long history, the basic principle of groups consistently has been group egoism in which people care about their own group above all. In other words, the focus has been on the “prosperity and survival” of the group to which you belong. As a result, even in the international society now, the fundamental principle of the various countries is to first care only about your own country, or the “prosperity and survival of one’s own country.” In the long history of humankind, this basic principle of “prosperity and survival of one’s own country” has been consistent and has not changed. Further, most people have assumed that this principle is true and obvious with no room for doubts.
Root cause of the critical dead-end situation
However, by looking thoroughly into the root cause of the present critical dead-end situation, we can say the cause is this “prosperity and survival of one’s own country” that has been considered as a widely accepted way of being. In other words, we can say the root cause is the conflicts among nations based on national egoism. Looking at history, due to conflicts among nations based on national egoism, wars have grown larger and larger, and along with this, scientific technology has evolved and stronger military weapons have been developed. At the same time, production and economic activities have been stimulated and increasingly grown in scale.
Of course, while these activities were not so large in scale, various problems arose, but there was still some leeway in the severity and size of the problems. However, now, advances in scientific technology, development of military weapons, and production and economic activities have grown to global scale. The severity and large scale of the resulting problems have already gone beyond the limits that the earth and humankind can bear. At the very least, we can say, they are about to go beyond the limits.
To resolve this dead-end situation from the root
This critical dead-end situation of human society absolutely cannot be resolved with surface level means and methods. To resolve this dead-end situation from the root, there is no other way except to change the direction in which human society is advancing (maybe this word is not suitable). National egoism has carried forth and led human society until the present. Since human society has carried forth with national egoism as the driving force until now, to resolve this critical dead-end situation of human society, there is no other way than for all countries to renounce national egoism, which is the driving force.
How can we eliminate the conflicts of national egoism?
However, even if we say that all countries should renounce national egoism, it would be impossible for everyone to discuss the matter and renounce national egoism all at once. Such discussions would simply end in bargaining tactics due to suspicions arising from each country’s egoism. This is clear from looking at the state of the United Nations meetings, world environmental conferences, or disarmament meetings that have been held in the past.
For all countries to renounce national egoism and the creation of a new world, it must start with one nation taking the lead and renouncing national egoism first of its own will.
By seeing that country’s new image, in other countries, there will be an increase in people who become aware of their own country’s true way of being. In this way, in each country, the momentum toward renouncing national egoism will increase. In time, following the first country, perhaps other countries will renounce national egoism of their own will.
Meanwhile, the momentum to renounce national egoism will increase rapidly in all countries of the world, and finally, all countries will try to renounce national egoism all at once.
Which country should be the first to renounce national egoism?
The issue is which country should be the first to renounce national egoism? Furthermore, specifically, what does it mean to renounce national egoism?
I think that Japan should be the one to show leadership and renounce national egoism first. The reason is that to begin with, renouncing national egoism is not something to demand from other countries. Demanding other countries to renounce national egoism is egoism itself. Therefore, I feel that since Japan is the country from which this idea arose, it makes sense and follows the right path for Japan to show leadership and renounce national egoism.
The Peace Constitution is a “Non-Egoistic” Constitution
In addition, Japan is blessed with several conditions that make it suited to be a pioneer ahead of other countries of the world to renounce national egoism. The most significant condition is that the world’s only “constitution that renounces national egoism” is in Japan. As you know, with Article 9, the present Constitution of Japan is called the Peace Constitution. Let us read Article 9.
The Constitution of Japan ? Article 9
1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
The Self-Defense Force is a clear violation of the Constitution
In this way, Article 9 declares that the Japanese people will “renounce war and not have war potential.” Incidentally, the Self-Defense Force is a clear violation of the constitution. However, the administration at the time established the Self-Defense Force on the grounds that since the right to self-defense is a legitimate right recognized by international law, war for self-defense and having war potential for self-defense is recognized.
Of course, the Self-Defense Force exists in Japan. However, the right to self-defense and war arising from military force for self-defense are not equivalent. There are methods of self-defense that do not rely on military force or war. For example, there are methods of self-defense such as proactive foreign policies.
As for self-defense, Article 9 says, “the right to self-defense is a legitimate right, but Japan makes a point of renouncing war for self-defense using military force.” If wars and maintaining war potential for self-defense were meant to be recognized, naturally, a phrase such as, “self-defense is an exception, and we will fight with military force,” would have been added to Article 9. In summary, Article 9 says, “Japan absolutely will not go to war, including wars for self-defense. Therefore, we will have absolutely no military power.”
Renouncing national egoism is stated in the Preamble of the Constitution
This Article 9 is truly a marvelous, revolutionary declaration in the history of humankind. However, with only Article 9, it is only saying, “Since we do not want to go to war, we absolutely will not go to war. This is why we will not have military power.” With this statement only, it cannot be called a complete declaration of renouncing national egoism.
The Preamble states that the country will renounce national egoism. The Preamble of the Constitution is not merely a decoration or series of flowery expressions. It describes the fundamental stance of the Constitution, so it is very important. So, let us read the Preamble:
The Constitution of Japan ? Preamble
We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution. Government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by the representatives of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed by the people. This is a universal principle of mankind upon which this Constitution is founded. We reject and revoke all constitutions, laws, ordinances, and rescripts in conflict herewith.
We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.
We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone, but that laws of political morality are universal; and that obedience to such laws is incumbent upon all nations who would sustain their own sovereignty and justify their sovereign relationship with other nations.
We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources. ?
The meaning of the Preamble
Some say that this Preamble is vague, but definitely, it is not so. If you read it straightforwardly with an open mind, the meaning is quite clear. The first part is a declaration of “rule by the people.” This is a very important point. It fundamentally does not allow the “state rule” that existed until the end of the war. “Sovereign power resides with the people,” means that the state cannot order or impose things on the citizens, and the citizens have the right to lead the state. At the same time, an important aim is that the citizens never again will be forcibly dragged into a war by the state.
If we sort through and explain the next part, it will become as follows:
We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time, that is, not temporary peace, but a true peace. For this, we trust in the justice and sincerity of the peace-loving peoples of the world. And by this trust, not by military force, we have determined to preserve our security and existence. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the realization of permanent world peace and the happiness of all humankind. For this, we will contribute to the fundamental solution of the world’s many serious problems through peaceful means. By right, no nation is responsible to itself alone and can ignore other nations. We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources.
Summarizing the Preamble and Article 9
Summarizing the Preamble and Article 9, they will become as follows:
We desire permanent world peace and the happiness of all humankind. To achieve this, we renounce national egoism that considers only the interests of one’s own country, and by exerting every possible effort of our nation to solve the problems such as hunger and poverty of people all over the world and for their prosperity, we will become a necessary and vital entity for the countries of the world. We will plan for the peace and existence of our country in this way. Through peaceful means, by contributing as a country to world peace and prosperity, we will protect our country. Therefore, we will hold absolutely no military power and absolutely will not go to war, including for self-defense.
This constitution is the only revolutionary declaration of renouncing national egoism, is overflowing with uplifting energy, and is the first of its kind in human history. This is a very important point. The peace declaration of the present Constitution of Japan does not just say in Article 9, “We renounce war and will not have military force.” Going a step further, the Preamble declares that we will not be responsible to our country alone, but for the realization of world peace and the happiness of all humankind, we will exert every possible effort to contribute internationally through peaceful means. At the same time, in this way, we will preserve the security of the country.
However, in general, I think many people do not sufficiently understand the meaning of the Preamble. If this is the case, I would appreciate it you would read and re-read the Preamble and Article 9, and deepen your understanding.
The significance of having a non-egoistic constitution
The constitution is the fundamental law and fundamental policy of a nation. The fact that Japan has this non-egoistic Peace Constitution means that of the countries of the world, Japan actually is privileged with the best circumstances to renounce national egoism.
However, since the enactment of the Constitution, Japan and its citizens have not made any concrete efforts following in the spirit of this non-egoistic constitution. The Preamble has become simply a decoration. Also, the true meaning of Article 9 has been ignored, because at present, Japan has world-class armed forces. However, Article 9 can be credited as having been a brake against exercise of the right to collective self-defense until now. Nevertheless, at present, that is also gradually being worn down.
The Peace Constitution must be actively brought to life
Protecting the Peace Constitution is very important, of course. However, that alone is not enough. It is passive to try only to protect, and over time, all will be chipped away. I feel that the Peace Constitution must be actively brought to life. Then, for the first time, it will become a true Peace Constitution.
So, what does it mean to actively bring to life the Peace Constitution? That means, based on the spirit of the Preamble and Article 9, the country and citizens together must put forth every possible effort to carry out policies and other measures in concrete ways.
As a concrete policy, put into effect with all our effort
Today, we are facing crises from many serious problems such as global-scale environmental destruction, poverty and famine in developing countries, and wars and conflicts. I believe that one of the areas in which Japan should contribute to the world the most is to help solve the global environmental problems. Another area in which Japan can contribute is international social welfare such as by measures against poverty in developing countries. As for wars and conflicts, Japan must never directly become involved with military force. Japan absolutely must avoid becoming drawn into another country’s wars or conflicts. Further, Japan must make efforts in cooperation with the United Nations and individual countries to stop wars and conflicts early.
In addition, Japan needs to put most effort into planning to resolve the confrontational relations among nations, which is the root cause of conflicts and wars. If Japan renounces its national egoism and chooses the path of contributing to the world with the nation’s strength, it will probably serve as a great force to improve the relations among nations.
Create a completely different flow
This will be repeating a bit, but with the many serious problems, human society is truly at a dead end. From within the flow and direction of advancement of human society of the past, I believe it is impossible to resolve from the root level, this worst crisis in human history. Within this flow, even with various new ideas, maybe we could expect a partial solution, but a root-level solution is impossible.
To attempt a root-level solution, instead of working from within the direction of the past, a completely different direction or creation of a new flow through concrete action is absolutely necessary. This means to begin with Japan renouncing national egoism.
Aspiring to become “a nation for international peace and the environment”
Specifically, this means for Japan to first actively bring to life the true meaning of the Preamble and Article 9 of the Peace Constitution, and exert the nation’s strength to contribute to the relief of global environmental problems and international social welfare problems such as by measures against poverty in developing countries. In simple terms, Japan should aspire for what I have called, “a nation for international peace and the environment.”
This is a shift from “an egoistic nation” that considers only its own interests and has a fundamental policy of “endlessly seeking prosperity and survival” to a “non-egoistic nation” that “considers the suffering of others as my suffering” and devotes every possible effort toward relieving the suffering.
Declare an ideal for the country of “a non-egoistic nation”
Just having a Peace Constitution is not enough. It is important to become a country that puts it into action. In this sense, I think Japan should declare anew an ideal for the country of “a non-egoistic nation.” Specifically, it means, let us declare an ideal for the country to “aim to become a nation for international peace and the environment.”
In Japan, as the number of people who agree with this idea increases, and as momentum builds toward aiming to become a nation that declares this bright ideal, peace-loving people from around the world surely will look with special attention at Japan’s new movement that is rooted in our true heart as humans. Further, people will understand that this is the path on which “I” (“we”) and “others” can prosper together.
In addition, in each country, momentum toward renouncing national egoism will build, and consequently, the tightly-bound structure of tension or structure of fear in international society based on conflicts of national egoism until now undoubtedly will be eased rapidly.
As for the serious problems of the world, in this process, it is anticipated that individual countries will step beyond their national egoism, and movements to work toward a root-level solution under a structure of true cooperation will become very active. In this way, humankind will at last overcome this worst crisis in history, and build a new international society and civilization based on love and living together in harmony.
Do we feel meaningfulness in life and have and a feeling of fulfillment?
By declaring an ideal to become a non-egoistic nation, it will bring great changes within the country in addition to overseas. Since the past, in fields such as those related to social welfare, medicine, and education, a person’s efforts in work or studies have been connected to the joy of the people who received the benefits of those efforts. Then, that in turn has become joy and a feeling of meaningfulness for the people who made the effort.
However, in other general work and studies, perhaps people feel that no matter how earnestly they make efforts for the advancement of the world, it is not clear who receives the benefits of their efforts, and most people have a sense that their efforts are absorbed somewhere into the world.
Even if people have a slight sense of fulfillment that their daily work, studies or livelihood benefits themselves or their family, perhaps the reality is that with the exception of a very few people, most do not realize and have a sense of fulfillment that their work, studies or livelihood is certainly connected to making the world better overall. Further, most people probably do not have the accompanying feeling of true joy and meaningfulness in life.
Individual Effort?National Ideal?Hopes of Humanity
Frankly speaking, it is because “an ideal with which we can feel satisfied and accept” has not been declared. This kind of ideal is needed in Japan. This ideal must be one in which our efforts in our daily life connect directly to solving the many problems within the country, as well as connect to the hopes of humanity to prevent the crisis faced by all of humanity. In other words, having the three points, “individual effort?national ideal?hopes of humanity,” connect together without contradiction is a required condition.
To build a country in which our daily work, studies, or livelihood connect directly to the happiness of all citizens and the hopes of humanity for permanent world peace and the happiness of all humankind, there is no doubt that declaring an ideal in Japan to “aspire for a nation for international peace and the environment” will bring about a complete change in our consciousness.
Based on this bright national ideal, we will lead our daily lives feeling so much joy and feeling meaningfulness in life. Perhaps, at that point, for the first time, we will be able to feel true joy and pride in having been born in Japan.
The above covers the main points of my book, “Beyond National Egoism.”
For what purpose were we born?
Is this just my own idealistic theory or pipe dream? There are probably some people who say it is so. However, please quietly and deeply think about, “For what purpose were humans born?” I firmly believe that by thinking about this question deeply, many people in the world will understand this idea and feel it is definitely not an idealistic theory or a pipe dream.
I say that because this idea is rooted deeply in our true heart that wishes for everyone to become happy together and is naturally within us (in other words, it is the instinct of the spirit of unselfishness and living together in harmony). It is also because this idea is one that concretely applies this natural instinct to solving the problems of our society. In any case, first, if you agree with this idea, everything starts from there. (to be continued…)
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Saturday, October 11, 2008