Chamo me Tiago Ribeiro, e desde a 9 anos que imigrei para o Canada, mais precisamente, para uma das mais belas cidades do mundo de seu nome VANCOUVER.Aqui irei mostrar e reflectir, sobre esta bela cidade, Cultura e Culturas, a experiencia da imigracao, reflexoes pessoais e sobre Portugal e Canada, entre outros temas e questoes desta VIDA de Imigrante e do MUNDO que me rodeia..
....VIVE SE ESCREVENDO E ESCREVE SE PARA VIVER...
Ola a todos, um dos meus grandes prazers e entrevistar pessoas que acho interesantes, como o e o Mig e agora o Ken. His a leader and a very nice guy that i would like to introduce you, here its his interview that will range from culture to ideias, and all that make us who, in this case Ken is, Enjoy.
1- Ken tell me about your cultural background and in what way it might have influenced you growing up in Canada.
I am a Japanese-Canadian. Growing up in Canada, I was always left with an identity crisis. My parents spoke to me in Japanese, I watched Japanese videos, and many of our family friends were Japanese. At home, it was a Japanese world. However, I had Canadian friends in the neighbourhood, many whom I would play with on a daily basis. I also watched local TV and enjoyed many of the programs people in my generation watched as a child. There has always been two sides of me, and they intertwine like vines: Japanese Ken and English speaking Ken.
2- In what way or not, do you think, your cultural background has shaped your professional choices? if so, how?
Japanese culture is very much about thinking about the other person. People exist to support the social structure, which is created in a way to support the majority, with the personal experience separated from the feedback loop: the group comes first. I find Canadian culture to be more outspoken in contrast to Japanese culture, where the social structure is more malleable: the social structure exists to support the people. Individual experience is much more a part of the process of social change, and so speaking out about one’s personal experience is necessary in order to survive. I find the need to uphold social structure a large part of my nature, yet, still have the need to voice individual needs in the name of equality. With this dichotomy of passiveness and activeness in my own social conditioning, I chose to live a life supporting people in various capacities: teaching, counselling, coaching. It satisfied both my desire to practice empathy and also my need to stand up for people and myself.
3- For those unfamiliar with modern Japan, how would you define/explain Japan at the social and political level?
Japan at present is in a time of extreme social instability. I used to live in Japan for a few years, and am not so well informed about Japan at present and yet the little information I learn from people and headlines is not so positive. There is a new Prime Minister every year. With several disasters, some still continuing at the very moment, it is a very tough time to live in Japan, especially for those my age, who are just rising up in society and sandwiched between the retiring boomers, and the next generation during a time of global financial recession. Amidst this calamity, there is a sentiment within Japan to rise out of this dire situation just like they did after World War 2. I believe that with the spread of the SGI movement in Japan, it’s next growth spurt will include a more global and humanistic system of social organization that will be more able to withstand such hardship and rise out of the ashes of the old regime.
4- Rewinding and remembering Canadian history for a bit, do you think that the Internment camps of 1942 still shape the Japanese-Canadian community mentalities till now in some way? in what way?
Yes they have. Japanese people in Canada are very dispersed. In times past, they had very strong communities and a tight social network. Since the internment camps, the re-establishment of a strong and influential Japanese community is yet to be seen. In recent years, this is changing, with the memory of the wartimes fading, Japanese people are creating the inklings of a community, but this time it is very different from the one they had before. Composed of Japanese Canadians like myself, mixed heritage Canadians (part Japanese, part other nationality, 43% of all Japanese Canadians ) and immigrants from Japan are the active promoters of this new culture. As for the Metro Vancouver area, the establishment of the Nikkei center plays a huge part in this revitalization of the spirit to establish Japanese roots. Like Japan itself, the Japanese in Canada are rising For more information, please read this article from the Georgia Straight about the issue: http://www.straight.com/article-465656/vancouver/japanese-traditions-bond-diverse-community
5- I am curious to know Ken, in what way does helping people with disabilities help you know about yourself and others around you better? ... Are others a door to ourselves? how?
Helping individuals with developmental disabilities has helped me understand about the possibilities of the human condition. I find myself amazed everyday at the individuals I support. I imagine the challenges they experience everyday and wonder about the determination and desire to live and be happy that these individuals must feel, and am often inspired to make better use of my own capabilities. All people, regardless of heritage, “disability”, or age are capable of teaching us something important about life and living with joy. I believe all our encounters with fellow human beings are living lessons for us and that we share bonds with each and every person we have a relationship with.
6- We know Buddhism is not well understood by the majority of people for many reasons, so I ask you, what's Buddhism to you Ken?
Buddhism is life itself. I am Buddhism, you are Buddhism, we are all a part of what Buddhism calls “The Mystic Law”. Our lives are infused with the laws of the universe, and therefore we have all the capabilities of the universe within us. Buddhism is a philosophy that takes a holistic, universal perspective about our lives that emphasizes the deep interconnectedness of our existence in the universe. Nichiren Buddhism in particular inspires us to have the confidence that each person has the power to realize their full potential because each person is originally a Buddha, or enlightened being. Practicing Buddhism is the return to our original state and bringing out our innate potential for true happiness that ultimately leads to personal fulfilment and by extension, global peace. It is overcoming our internal negative tendencies and sincerely striving for the sake of happiness for all people, based on faith, study and practice of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which means: Devotion to the Mystic Law of Cause and effect through voice and sound.
7- What is Canada and to be Canadian for you Ken?
Canada is a pioneer in the struggle for world peace. Throughout the day, a Canadians ability to understand other cultures is constantly tested, especially in urban areas. To have people from so many cultural backgrounds live in relative proximity to each other while upholding their traditions means that there is a huge potential for conflict or misunderstanding. Canadians have learned to keep their prejudices from being expressed in the foreground and reserve their judgements until they learn more about the other person. Being Canadian for me means to practice understanding and a desire to learn before jumping to conclusions.
8- Being a leader of a young's men group in SGI, who or what inspires you to lead?
My mentor in faith Daisaku Ikeda inspires me. Also, his mentor Josei Toda, and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Nichiren Daishonin and the Shakyamuni Buddha all inspire me. Their selfless dedication to the betterment of all humanity is something that I strive for every day. Most of all, the desires and dreams of the people I support in SGI, at work and at home motivate me to work harder to support them.
9- In your life, what moments better defined you? why?
Just like everybody else, events like: marriage, honeymoon, job change, becoming a parent. They all define me. Since I’m always changing and growing, it’s hard to pin down a single moment. There’s this one moment though in a Coaching Module I attended. It was an activity where I went through three aspects of my consciousness: my conscious mind, my unconscious, and a fusion of the two. It was when I fused the two together that everything fell into place. I remember it so clearly. I realised that I was born to be a Life Coach, and that revelation has never left me. It changed my life so profoundly, that everything looked different: my family, my friends, my work. I could feel that same energy within each individual, and my life has been dedicated to helping bring whatever energy exists in that person out. That’s when I realised that my life mission was to help empower people throughout my life. It was like returning to my original self as I had said earlier.
10- Daisaku Ikeda president of the lay Nichiren Buddhist Organization Sokka Gakkai International, for those who don't know him, quoted "The great human revolution in just a single individual will enable a change in the destiny of all mankind", so I ask, how can we, Buddhists and non Buddhists, change the world?
We can change the world by realising our full potential to create happiness for ourselves and for others. What can you do to help another person?? What can you do to be truly happy?? We can all ask ourselves this and our reaction to this question defines who we are and in what place we are in our life. If each of us worked together, mutually supporting each other and strived to reach understanding through sincere dialogue…. If we all took that time and effort, for the sake of real and lasting happiness in the world, then our network of family, friends, society, nation and world will be one of true unity with the laws of life. We are all born to be happy each and every one of us. It is whether we realise and actualise it or not, and return to our original, courageous, wise and compassionate selves through overcoming our challenges that creates true and lasting peace. It all starts from where you are right now in your life.
11-Growing up in Canada, how much of your Japanese do you still preserve Ken? And what does that heritage mean for you being a Japanese-Canadian?
I can read, speak, write and comprehend Japanese to about a grade 6 level. My heritage is my roots: the connection to my mother and father, and my ancestors. It is what makes me special in this world, for our roots color our life with culture. My search to understand my roots is what brought me to Buddhism.
12- Working at the community level and you being a very community-oriented individual, I would like to ask, to what extent can we (individually/group), improve the community and her mould us as a consequence?
I’m not sure about the last part of your question because of the wording structure, but I am going to assume it is asking about how society moulds us.
The extent we can improve the community is the extent we can initiate interaction with others. The extent society moulds us is the extent we are impacted by other people. It’s plain and simple. There are so many forms of this principle, but it all comes down to these two things. However like Marshall Mcluhan says, “the medium is the message”, and so our level of interpretation of HOW we interact with others, and HOW we take what other people say varies according to how we perceive ourselves. And so ultimately, to the extent that you can understand your own gift to the world, you can understand others and as a result, effect others and be affected by others.
13- To finish the interview, are there still people out there able to inspire and elevate us as the human beings we all are? if yes, who? and why that person?
Yes. Every person we interact with can inspire us: it is a matter of our hearts. My mother so often says to me “What’s important is the feelings” and it is echoed by the words of my mentor in faith Daisaku Ikeda who says “What’s important is the Heart”. The myriad of relations we have with others is simply a trigger by which what we have inside is ultimately expressed. It is us, ourselves who allow ourselves to be inspired, it is us who elevate ourselves because we have yearnings in our hearts for Happiness. What’s important is our hearts. Our best friend can inspire us, our worst enemy can inspire us to grow. A person on the bus, or street can elevate us to a higher plane of wisdom. It is all within us, to change, to grow and help others. It is the Heart that’s important.
Thank you Tiago for giving me the chance to have this interview and learn about myself, have the chance to inspire others and speak out about my values. You with your own passions have allowed me to elevate my life by sharing my life with the world. Likewise, all of us can inspire and be inspired by others. I hope that all the people who read this foster a spirit of love for humanity and challenge in life. Thank you all for your time.