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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Taking the long view on prosperity

Rika Kayama

China celebrated its foundation day, known as "the National Day of the People's Republic of China," on Oct. 1. This year marks the 70th anniversary since modern China was established, and it was reported that the country put more efforts than regular years into celebrations.

Japanese TV programs focused much on the military parade that took place during the day, but there was a spectacular show in Tiananmen Square at night. I'm currently studying Chinese, and I watched the live broadcast of the show on a cable network. To put it simply, it was many times larger than an Olympic opening ceremony in scale and lasted for 90 minutes. There was dancing, choir performances, music concerts, fireworks and so on. I was wondering just how many people took part and how much they practiced for the show. Both the performers and spectators appeared to be having a grand time.

When I switched to a bilingual broadcast with simultaneous interpretation, I heard the announcer say, "We barely had things to eat just 30 years ago, but we have prospered this much."

Those words felt real to me. I believe that in China, many people have gone from "barely finding food for the day" to being able to pick what they want to eat or enjoy what they eat. From these changes, they are probably feeling, "we have come this far."

Though I was born after World War II, when I was a child Japan was not as rich or convenient as it is now. There were no convenience stores or microwaves, and I remember my mother warming up my father's dinner with a steamer when he came home late. There were no baguettes or croissants, and "bread" only meant sandwich bread.

Remembering these things, I soon think to myself, "We're truly blessed in this day and age." But that thought quickly fades, and I find myself complaining and saying things like, "Oh, you're out of the brown rice bento box? I'm kind of getting tired of white rice." And at other times I would go looking for inconvenience, thinking, "Food tastes better and healthier if it is heated up with a steamer, rather than in a microwave." How strange and spoiled humans can be.

Especially recently, we have come to realize that the idea of "the richer, the better" is not always right as issues such as the global climate crisis and plastic waste have become prominent. That being said, it's impossible to go back to the time where no one could choose anything. As I watched the Chinese people looking like they were celebrating their country's prosperity from the bottom of their hearts, these things crossed my mind.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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