松下政経塾 The Matsushita Institute of
Government and Management

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2005年10月

塾生レポート

Conditions of a Leader
田草川薫/卒塾生

To create a prosperous and sustainable society has been a dream of mankind for decades. Yet it has not yet come true. Studying This report is dedicated to consider if it possible to share a common ideal, so that it would help this world be more safe and a pleasant place to exist.

 

1.Preface

More than three hundred people gathered for a conference on early days of November, to discuss seriously and honestly about how to create a true “Sustainable Society”. Using the methods and visions that could be shared amongst individuals, private companies and political leaders; the group exchanged their experience and shared secrets of the success, so that we can all participate in different ways.

Attending the Green Business Conference in San Francisco, hosted by one of America’s largest environmental and social activists’ group, Coop America, gave me an opportunity to think about what is the necessity in creating a sustainable society, a value that can be shared outside our physical borders, something that can be shared no matter what kind of racial background you have. It is believed that this common value is something that all people should aim for.

Age, education and experience should not be an obstacle, and it is a duty of those who aim to be a leader of a group, to be able to explain this value to the rest of the non-enlightened people. I believe this value is similar to what Konosuke Matsushita (referred by associated and alumni of MIGM as “Jukushu”) tried to tell us, through his words of explaining “Ningen-Kan (Understanding Mankind)”.

Therefore, this report is dedicated to describe the conditions of what, where and how we should aim to bring prosperity to us all through studying the values that are treasured among all human beings.

2.The “What” and the “Where”: Goal of Human Well-Being

It is evident that prosperity can only be achieved through creation of sustainable society. You may be prosperous for a day, or a month, or even a year, but if the situation does not last for a certain period of time, it should not be called as prosperity to begin with. Parties are meant to end, that is why we can concentrate just on the fun of it while it’s on. Often, you don’t have to consider much about the consequences of short time pleasure. Epicurean does not worry about the future well beings. Such shortsighted sybarites cannot contribute to creating a sustainable society.

So, by words and by meanings, what is a sustainable society? What are we aiming for? Where are we heading? Is it only a dream to talk about sustainable society, or is it something achievable in the realistic and practical time frame, if we learned how to set our minds to it?

The vision and the mission stated in Coop America explain most of it. Their vision is to “work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where beauty and wealth of the earth are preserved for all generations to come”. To achieve this vision they promise to “harness the economic power of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society”.

Being an environmental activist myself in the past days, I am in favor of putting heavier value on nature than gold. However, experiences has made me wise, and by now, I know that it is indispensable to connect and share values with the 99 percent of the population, who neither recognize what the world sustainable means in the first place nor understand the hidden values of nature. Making “Sustainability” sound too sacred will put people off from showing interest, thus limiting the number of people who might be able to help making sustainability come true.

The best way to involve the crowd is to make it interesting and a pleasure to participate. Green Business Conference, and the Festival to follow shows a successful example. A “Party with a Purpose” where more than 20 thousand people get exposed to green business, and learns that it’s not something extra ordinary is something that should be implemented all over.

Also showing that caring for the Earth will pay back in the long-term is necessary. A time scale in our present life is preferred, but saying, “Let’s do if for our children” often works on people to alter their daily habits. As Buck Minster Fuller explains it, we are all in a spaceship called the Mother Earth. What comes in and out of the Planet affects us all, and we are all responsible for the good and bad that occurs. We are just travelers spending a limited time on this aircraft, and it is our responsibility to hand it on to the next generation without causing too much damage.

The facts that we live in a society where things are based on economic activities restrict us to ignore the fact that we are on the destiny together. Money is a powerful source of influence, yet we must not let it dominate our souls. It is essential for those with “high spirit” to play a crucial role in creating systematic change that are necessary to redefine how to do business. How to interact with each other, using money as a common tool, but to put more values on social justice and environment, maybe a little bit more than now for the interest of making a profit.

3.How to do it? Utilizing Wisdoms of Asia

To add economic values to environmental and social activities are initial starting point in reaching a sustainable world. Also living in harmony is an option that we should begin immediately, just like caring for each other. Many of these wisdoms can be seen in the ancient learning from Asia. The Discourses of Confucius is one good example, courses shone by Jukushu is another. Tranquility and authenticity seems to be a key phrase in understanding the word harmony and sustainability.

People nowadays are showing interest in learning these wisdoms, through books and also through learning practices like yoga, meditation and martial arts. Many of these practices show that confrontation can be used to reconcile one self with those surrounding them. Although this may sound contradictory, it is true in a sense that one must look and admit the problems that are occurring around them, before getting to understand and be able to take care of them. By observing the situation around one self, and see all the work that has been done to create that situation makes one appreciatable for everything. This feeling of appreciation is the key role in all human knowledge, especially in Asia, where we thank nature and try to collaborate with them rather than dominate them. Letting us be cradled in the heart of Mother Nature is the first step a human should take in living their daily lives.

Secondly, in the teaching of Asian wisdom, it is often described that one should concentrate in our inner voices. A heart and soul of a human being holds many fertile seeds that are merely waiting for the light and nourishment in order to grow into a beautiful flower. Such growth of inner self can be achieved by listening to the voices outside. The stimulation and the blow from the past to present, whether it is good or bad, all adds up to chances of enlightenment.

The body has its limitation in achieving certain goals. However, your soul can be as large as the universe, and can understand everything if we are supple enough to accept it.

4.Wisdom of Konosuke Matsushita

Konosuke Matsushita, founder of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management used to define human beings as creatures of high virtue and nobleness. It is a nature of these spiritual creatures to understand the logic of order hidden in the working of nature and the universe, to be able to exert and exhibit one’s talent to make use of oneself, and participate in the great flow of the long running story, so called history of the planet Earth.

It is a dispensation and fate for people to prosper, and bring happiness to each other. People are supposed to be wise enough to create a prosperous situation, rich and abundant both materialistically and spiritually. Gathering wisdom and being obedient has allowed people to work in harmony. Harmony unites people. Unification creates strong fundamental for a stable and safe society.

Jukushu often said that people should prosper materially and morally, and that physical benefit must be consistent spiritual benefit. It is through satisfaction of mind and soul that we can work to make a better community. He also repeated quoted that ”People” are important, and to think in other people’s perspectives enables us to think differently, and understand people differently. The variety of perspective enables us to understand different values; hence it helps us know more about what is a benefit to people.

In the book “Matsushita Konosuke no Tetsugaku (Philosophy of Konosuke Matsushita)”, there is a quote “Life is made up of production and consumption. The best production and consumption in terms of material and moral creates a good living”. Also, in the same book, he comments about the balance of the universe. All creations are keeping balance by following the natural order of the universe. Human beings follow the same rule, and can live a well-balanced life by adjusting to the rule. According to Jukushu, balance is not about compromising or colluding, but about accommodation to the truth in nature, and to live naturally, using one natural instinct, otherwise known as “Ten-bun”.

To live in harmony with the universe, listening to the basic principles of the universe, and following the dispensation set by the universe is not always easy. Jukushu often repeated that life is similar to management, and balance is the key to everything. The fundamental theory for Jukushu in his approach to management is that there must be an optimum way driven from inconsequence. The method he took was to omit all sorts of uselessness and futility, hence move on based on balance and harmony. When one deletes vain from their work, life, anything in particular, it is natural for things that are left to work unconditionally. Economy is based on balance, and balance is based on harmony, and harmony is incarnated through omittance of futility.

Balance is also important when you consider the happiness of the whole. Prosperity is only achieved when the whole group is filled with happiness. There is no way that prosperity is shaped through a success of an individual. We do not exist alone in nature, and prosperity is linked amongst us all. Therefore to provide true prosperity for the society, we must all unite in harmony and create a balance that is the best to satisfy all sources.

This is a true and necessary attitude to bring together a sustainable society. Through the discussion we have come to an agreement that sustainability is not obtained for a single individual, group of the same economic objective, of not even for the country. We must have a broad vision to look at the whole planet and care for the well-beings of the future generation as well.

The teachings of Jukushu that was given decades ago is still fresh to us that are thriving for balanced and harmonized state. It could be said that his worlds and values are true in ways that it is still useful among us, and can be understood even with a different social background. I believe that we could conclude this values to be a common ideal for many of us, and it is my duty to spread the idealism of Jukushu in the process of creating a sustainable society.

5.In Conclusion

After 9/11, it is said that the world has changed dramatically.
America has changed dramatically.

A country once known as a place of opportunity, hope, and dream has changed somehow. Instead of creating joy and being a role model of other countries, they are increasing ways to protect themselves from terrorism. Fighting violence with violence has never been an effective strategy to solve problems. However, people are more eager to discuss about how to overcome fear, rather than to share joys and happiness.

Dan Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University posed a very important question to make us think about what is important in life. And the question was;” If you want to help the world move forward, is it better to fight terrorism or poverty?”

The attention on fighting terrorism is still high on the international political agenda, despite the fact that more people are dying from poverty everyday than a single attack of terrorist in the US. As Gilbert clearly shows, more lives can be saved by combating poverty, using the budget put in to report and discuss about the fear that could have occurred due to social and political unjust the international society was creating.

Jukushu pointed out the importance of fighting poverty in his theory of Suido-Tetsugaku. He illustrated that people should be allowed to enjoy richness and fulfillment, rather than strive for basic human needs.

That is ever so agreeable, and it all leads to the necessity of structuring a sustainable society. A society where everyone, all the time is living in happiness and harmony, and where wellness is ready for all without asking. That is what and where we should head to, and this should be possible by believing that it is possible, through daily training. After all, god gave us brains to use it, and we always learn best from experiences. What worse experience could we have gone through, than of those of this past decade. It is about time to wake up and make the change. The responsibilities are in our own hands, not in the hand of God. And there are teaching to show us the way. Through communication and creation of relationship, it is possible that we can share common values, common ideals and common dreams, and make it all happen.

2005年10月 執筆
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