Text GeoMee01 to Jury Team!

4 04 2009

Jury Team is a UK based non-party affiliated organization that democratically elects (through texting) one candidate to support his/her potential to becoming an MEP / MP.

I’ve become part of this new drive, so if you live in the UK, click here and vote for me!

To vote: Text “GEOMEE01” to Jury Team text number, 86837.

Thanks!

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Hikikomori Conclusion

23 02 2009

Conclusion

If we bring all the commentary together certain similarities become more clearly apparent. Broadly, we can consider these environment and identity.

‘The goal is to find ways of creating supportive, appropriate relationship that allow for personal and societal growth and development … in order to create school environments for the next generation of Japanese children.’ [pp. 216]

Hikikomori is not just a phenomena of Japan, though in sheer numbers it leads. Similar problems are emerging around the world. Such places as (my own) Great Britain, but also in the Asian tigers of Hong Kong and South Korea. I am not surprised by this. My studies of education systems worldwide postulates that the increasingly standardized, globalized education systems, are themselves key.

They increasingly become more piecemeal, more abstract and getting further and further from the direct needs of the overwhelming majority and the reality that they face, day to day. Wither, the full blown planetary crisis we are now in: does schoolwork with “the children are all our futures” deal in any meaningful way with that? Does it have even the space in its agenda, what with all those tests, et al?

Time to think how to prudently prepare them for a radically different future, just now visible on the horizon. Well, are they preparing our youth over whom they have absolute power, backed by Law? Are they?? The hikikomori have given-up on the present way, that of forced study. It is patently not working for all kids, and is falling down all over the world.

These hikikomori are making a protest with their very lives. It is a cry out for another way, one which acknowledges their identity. If we can give them an environment where they can prosper, be themselves, and not face a barrage of non-useful information, or being labelled as a freak, or worse. Are not the children who also react to all this, those who take their own life, really making the same point as the hikikomori? And also, these children are not usually suffering mental problems. Dr. Watanabe in the book text says, “In most of the cases the children are fine.” [pp. 86] “Troubled” kids are actually less troubled than many of their parents and teachers.” [pp. 78]

‘We are arguing that the “problem” is not “in” the child but rather “in” the system of communication.’ says Fogel & Kawai. And I would argue education is in the prime, a system of communication. Is it not possible, that the ultra sensitive, intelligent hikikomori are the canary in the mine shaft of our degrading world and with its many bankrupt systems now emerging?

Here is Kaz Ueyama, a local hiki-boy from Kobe, “I couldn’t find any motivation to attend class. Why do I have to go to school where I’m not allowed to pursue my own intellectual interests, like history and philosophy, but have to memorize dates and names for college entrance exams?” [pp. 54]

“Hikikomori kids don’t have a way out … To survive in Japan you have to kill off your own original voice.” [pp. 57] He discovered on the web, sites concerning post-traumatic stress disorder. Did Kaz diagnose himself as PTSS? “Doomed to failure” and so have withdrawn from society, which in fact “set them up for failure” wrote James Young on the internet.

And the perfidious agent, I maintain again is, the education system. And anyway, why does an individual, unique and gifted, need a mass system at all? One based on the lowest common denominator of all? Why does accepted wisdom always advocate an eventual return to the system? As in ‘It is essential in all forms of bridging the child feels safe and protected.’ [pp. 213] The authors suggest ‘The fourth level of Japanese bridging frames – the return to school.’ [pp. 214] ‘It is the family and school which sets the agenda’

These lost young adults can prosper only in an open, flexible and a trusting environment. This is recognized as implicit in my own research. It is just therefore a case of doing it. Let us just see.

A Blueprint for a Way Forward

This long term research focuses on engaging Youth – all of them – by using their talents, skills, abilities all of which are often unique to each. I would set up a programme that would harness this — the power of youth and youth dreams, to haul them out, step by step, from the darkness. The programme will be a trajectory to education, good citizenship and yes, a happier life.

My early findings found that it is the system itself which (for some) works against children identity and environment. These – those that do not fit in – are run over like a trawler churning up the seabed of their childhood, flattening their young lives. Democracy Reaches the Kids does the opposite to this. A simple alternate curriculum, a framework, whereby ‘the kids that don’t fit in’ are given a clear alternate route to education, and led to success that way.

Identity ‘If the child is allowed to play a role in developing solution the child is more likely to make a commitment in the eventual resolution.’ [pp. 215]

The Adjusted Alternate Education Framework allows the individual student to decide when (and where) they will study. Who will be your teacher. (This includes themselves via the net.) How much time to spend or will it be none at all. Subjects, they select them.

Of course society DOES have certain requirements, expectations. These subjects I have suggested. If after they are explained, honestly, and still a kid wants to abandon something, or is not ready yet, not until later perhaps, then so be it. It is their democratic life after all.

However, these are smart people, too. For the most part, and maybe after other things done first, and a change of mind or two. Fine. The door of education will always be open to them, to us all.

Environment Those from within the Japanese culture cannot easily address this problem. Japanese culture, may be a factor for this social problem, an outsider is in a better position. First, do we necessarily need to be in “school?” As the saying goes, ‘the whole world is my oyster.’ Much can be done from an isolated bedroom. Education is just getting information into a persons head, where and how, and whereby is not an issue. [Winston Churchill, for example, just read books.]

One could indeed gain an education based on the Internet alone, as some have done. So these just need a qualifying authority. A sort of Open University, as pioneered in GB. But we can go a step further. Not arbitrary subjects selected by tradition and by some faceless entity, but ones own private studies and leanings. All has value.

We can proceed with Adjusted Alternate Education Framework a trail programme, set-up in Kobe. I postulate the setting-up of a loose framework which would give the spirit of ‘community,’ using a mostly empty building on the campus. A core task will to be bolster local/national culture. As said, ‘Japan will never lose its long history.’ [pp. 216]

In western approach there is more input from the child and more room for the child’s autonomy some sort of challenge is presented to the withdrawn. (Fogel & Kawai) They say: ‘At the first level of Western bridging frames some type of challenge is presented to the child who is withdrawn.’ [pp. 214] I suggest a much bigger bridge, wider. Examples I read included the Shikoku shrines, adventure, using tents. At any rate always an open environment.

‘It is essential in all forms of bridging the child feels safe and protected.’ [pp. 213]

‘At the second level of Western bridging frames the child is asked to articulate his fears, concerns.’

Open, ‘mutually respectful, accepting produce a sense of relieve in the child because of being understood at a deep emotional level.’ [pp.215]

At a special Hikikomori meeting in Seoul, 2008, they spoke of the terrible need to avoid the isolation of affected families. This is urgent and should be confronted at the earliest. I stand ready to immediately take this into the field and begin in earnest the great and sensitive task of creating a safe environment for these intelligent young Japanese and thereby also give hope to their traumatised families.

It only remains for the model to be set-up and running. I have no doubt that from reading the literature that Democracy Reaches the Kids! can have a positive, potentially galvanizing effect on the dynamics surrounding the hikkikomori phenomena. Once again these children may re-enter the sunlight. Let’s begin in Kobe! Thank you

George Meegan / Kobe / 23rd February 2009

With special thanks to Mr. Masahisa Okuyama, founder of the Hikikomori Support Association (KHJ) and his Advisor, Mr. Suguru Sato. For material sent, including ‘Hikikomori – A Dynamic Systems Theory Perspective’ by Fogel & Kawai, and the web addresses.

Fukae campus, the old KUMM gave me the space to workout ‘Democracy Reaches the Kids.’ Author Michael Zielenziger and Vintage Press for ‘Shutting Out the Sun – How Japan Created its own Lost Generation.’ The BBC for their film ‘The Mystery of the Missing Million.’





The Longest Walk

29 01 2009

The Longest Walk –

The Record of Our World’s First Crossing of the Entire Americas

Published by and Orders@Xlibris.com

My original title was An Odyssey of the Human Spirit; I felt that closer in keeping. The initial publisher, Dodd, Mead was the second oldest in America [199-years] when it went bankrupt.

‘The Long Walk.’ was the title of the classic book by a Polish Army officer who escaped from Siberia, so my story became ‘The Longest Walk.’ The journey has never been repeated. Nobody at the time (or since) could have imagined it being pulled off, never mind the penniless way of it, that was when I became a true wayfarer.

Profile:

I don’t know about you but as a youngest growing up in England’s Kent, I always dreamed to make a journey, even a great one. I think it had something to do with English history, which was all around, and so much of it seemed focused I far off lands.

So from 5-years-old on, and unknown to my chums, my mind was already in distant parts where dreams were.

First off I went to the ship ‘Worcester’ moored in the Thames and the last of such ‘wooded’ walled vessels afloat. One chop time I suddenly upped and climbed to the top of the tallest mainmast. No other kid of that period ever did that, I believe I was the last.

I spent a total of seven years at sea, first as a cadet and then as a mate. By the time I was 18 I had been around the world – both ways. I finished up as second mate aboard a tramp ship. But I found that it was not the Sea that I loved, no, it was the lands beyond.

So, this and my experiences up to that date propelled me to the bottom of the world, Tierra del Fuego, where I turned northwards and began what would become The Longest Walk. And as Guinness said “of all time.” How lucky I was!

It was my honour, and I did find the wonder, the goodness and the sheer craziness of Life!

Thank you for joining me.

Excerpt One – The North Argentine            

Learning of my immediate plans, they began lecturing me with the hauteur of those who pride themselves in successfully predicting the worst.

            “Oh, you think this is hot? This heat is nothing,” pronounced the husband. “In the desert to the north, it will be much worse for you––no shelter, nothing.”

            “Much, much hotter,” the wife gleefully added.

            “And there are those snakes, and out there are millions of deadly spiders,” the man continued.

            “They might kill you,” beamed his sour-faced wife.

            “Of course, then there’s El Zonda, the hot wind––it will burn you up.”

            “Just like a dead rat,” his echo obliged.

            “Don’t forget the Tucumán police,” Mr. Misery thoughtfully concluded, “they’ll shoot you for sure. They don’t ask questions up there, you know.”

            A good night’s sleep helped me put their dire warnings out of mind, and indeed, the next day, it was a relief to be moving again.

Excerpt Two – Bolivia

            An open door often signified a boliche (“shop”––really a hut), where I might find a few dusty bottles of sickly sweet soda, some cans of Peruvian anchovies, and perhaps an old Argentine meat tin. To one quickly passing by, an adobe hut could be a shop or just as possibly a pigsty or the town hall. You never could tell. Few outsiders ever get to these backwaters, and the sight of this strange traveler would bring the Indians to the door, adults as well as children, all staring out in silent mistrust. Bundled and ponchoed against the high-altitude cold, I would press on.

Excerpt three – Nicaragua

            During the long walk back to their house, night drew on, and with it wild drinking in a makeshift cantina on the tall, uncut grass in the center of the town. Curses flew through the air in my general direction; everyone who spotted me seemed to be in a belligerent mood. I kept my silence––one garbled Spanish phrase from me could have been turned knife-quick into a minor incident. It was with great relief that the nervous family and I managed, backs to the wall, to edge away from the throng and into their house.

NOTE 24 July 2009

If you are interested in this forgotten adventure then the book HE LONGEST WALK – The Record of our world’s First Crossing of the entire Americas is now available from Xlibris. Go through Amazon.com or call 888 795 4274

“In reflection, it was all a wonderful dream, and how lucky I was to survive it. It was where I fell in love with the Humanity, the glorious life experience itself, and our shockingly threatened planet and only home. You know we existlost in a truly huge void. Nearest earth like planet, what a hundred thousand million (human) lifetimes away.

geo.