Happy New Year, Ladies and Gentlemen! I am sincerely grateful to God to be able to greet the New Year, 2018, in good health and without incident together with all of you. Thank you very much.
Last year, we began the “Three-Year Plan to Build the Foundation of a ‘New Civilization.’” “New civilization” is the way of life in which the prosperity of nature is the prosperity and happiness of human beings and it refers to the whole of faith, philosophy, science and technology, economics, and politics that support and expand that way of life. We believe that, as the foundation to build that way of life, we first need to change our values and lifestyle and beginning last year, we began gaining real momentum with the following “three practices”:
1. No-meat, low-carbon dietary life
2. Resource-saving, low-carbon way of life
3. Nature-emphasized, low-carbon way of expression
Additionally, beginning this year, we have decided to promote the following three activities to develop these three lifestyles more concretely and systematically:
① SNI Organic Vegetable Gardening Club
② SNI Bicycle Club
③ SNI Craft Club
As you can see from these three names, our goal is to change our lifestyle to one in which we grow organic vegetables, ride bicycles, and hand craft daily necessities ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen, is this an “anachronistic” way of life?
No, that is not the case. This is an old but new lifestyle to regain the sense of oneness between nature and human beings.
In the “old civilization” that began with the 18th Century Industrial Revolution, science and technology were generally evaluated based on “how much it could rob from nature.” Whittling away at the mountains, piercing the ocean floor, how much coal can be mined at one time, how much ore can be dug up, how much petroleum can be squeezed out....Technology that could get as much resources and energy for human beings, and for human beings only, was highly valued as “excellent technology” and “advanced technology.” As a result, nuclear power generation which brought about enormous energy by destroying substance atoms was born. However, the by-products of this anthropocentric former civilization—the missiles, fighter planes, and nuclear weapons—are now threatening world peace.
Even in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, because biological resources were used according to the same “anthropocentric” criteria, animals and birds were driven to extinction and forests were destroyed and livestock overflowed on the land, there was excessive catching of fish and shellfish, and many insects and plants are extinct. Only the kinds of living things that are to the liking of human beings have increased, and all others are disappearing year after year, leaving biodiversity on the verge of a crisis. As you know, sea water oxidation, global warming, and climate change are occurring as a comprehensive result of this.
Because we have continued to take from earth’s nature for so long on such a large scale and in such a disorderly way, we are destroying the balance of the material and biological circulation that has been stable for tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of years. This has been proven in innumerable scientific studies. Nonetheless, the leaders of countries around the world have yet to figure out how to get away from the thinking and way of life of the “old civilization” that holds the goal of economic development supreme.
We believe one of the reasons for this vicious cycle of humanity to be that human beings think of nature as being in conflict with themselves and have lost their sense of oneness with nature. UN statistics a few years ago reported that more than half of humankind abandoned the lush countryside to live in cities. To say, “No,” to this movement, we moved from the big city, Tokyo, to “the forest” at the southern foot of Yatsugatake rich in nature. We are in the process of changing to a lifestyle in which we no longer eat meat in everyday life, grow organic vegetables, ride bicycles, and make everyday items by ourselves.
Dr. Richard Sennett, a sociologist in the United States who himself plays music and creates crafts, in the closing days of World War II, tackled the question of why people who were such excellent scientists with a sense of moral values were involved in the manufacture of atomic bombs and he, consequently, wrote a book entitled The Craftsman . A “craftsman” means “a person who makes things.” His conclusion was that the cause lies in the division of labor which is extremely advanced and the structure of current society in which it has been a long time since people could see the whole of their work. The lack of morals in our mind resulting from the situation makes us do nothing but focus on competition without considering the ethics of our own work.
We must now decide whether we, as a “cog” in a big machine, should confidently do work that is different from our own beliefs and ethics or, as an independent person of faith, though it may take time, grasp the whole of our work and following our beliefs and sense of ethics, live for the happiness of society and the next generation.
By growing organic vegetables ourselves, by feeling the texture of wood and stone in making crafts, by moving our body to its fullest and pedaling our bicycles while feeling the wind and sun, we can actually feel that “nature and human beings are one in God” and deepen and expand our faith that “all human beings are children of God.” Through this way of life, we should be able to contain the world’s chaos due to climate change to the barest minimum.
Together let us contribute with joy to world peace through faith in our lives. I look forward to working with you again this year. Thank you very much in advance.