Friday, April 29, 2005

Tragic Obsession

If there's one thing that has both fascinated me and perturbed me during my two years in Japan it is the national obsession with punctuality. On the one hand, I love it. Things begin when they say they'll begin. You don't end up waiting around a lot. It makes life predictable. On the other hand, I hate it. There is zero tolerance for lateness, even 30-second's delay to the start of a meeting can really set some people over the edge. In my business, where I deal with people day in and day out, punctuality doesn't always get observed. How do you tell a person to pour their heart out.......punctually? How do you work through tough issues dealing with people and systems......punctually? Does punctuality stifle creativity?.......usually.

This past week, there was a huge train wreck near Osaka. Japan's worst train wreck in decades. It had the same impact as a crash of a 747 in New York City would have. Tragic. The article in yesterday's International Herald Tribune ("An Obsession with Being on Time") spells out some of the tragic consequences of a national obsession with punctuality.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/27/news/japan.php

Friday, April 01, 2005

Life and Death

CNN has been full of Terry Sciavo.....it's the stuff that media "news"/entertainment is made of. Frankly, I have found the whole thing very, very sad. It is full of all sorts of contradictions that make Americans looks absolutely ridiculous.

We claim to be the champions of a society that "believes in the rule of law." That's the high purpose our leaders went to war in Iraq. Our President stands and makes glowing speeches extoling the virtues of "the law." And yet, when that same law is consistently and fairly applied -- as it has been in Terry Sciavo's case -- we run to condemn that law. I guess it's not just about "the rule of law" but rather "the rule of law as long as it agrees with everything I/we believe in." Talk about twisted!

Many Americans claim our country to be "a Christian nation" and yet in all the rhetoric, I have not heard any strong voices of Christianity that seem to understand that our faith is founded upon a belief in the Resurrection. So, on Good Friday, many sought to snatch Terry Sciavo from the path that each and every one of us must take towards the end of life. And CNN and all the people they seemed to interview showed surprise that that journey was a tough one. They likened it to Auschwitz, to being condemned to death, to being murdered. They failed to see that it was the journey of a fellow human being....the journey from life THROUGH death. Where are all those Easter People, all those faithful Christians who are supposed to realize that there is a better life beyond that hospice room, beyond the incapacitation of severe brain damage, beyond the sad, sad photos of a family trying to cling to someone and something that had left them years ago?

All these politicized Christians are shouting about "erring on the side of life." Well, it's time that they stopped shouting and took stock of themselves and the faith which they are supposed to be witnessing to. There is a life beyond this one! There is more to that life than the rotten stink of death. And, believe it or not, there is nothing easy, nothing pat, nothing black-and-white about life and death. OK, so they don't like the choices that Terry's husband made on her behalf. But, while they're at it, they better take heart that neither his decisions nor hers nor anyone else's will separate Terry from the love of God which is, and always will be, hers through Christ.

Shame on all these politicized Christians for their fascination with their own voices and their inability to hear the soft voice of a loving God who has always been at Terry Shiavo's side.