Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Speech Contest

Every year there is a prefectural speech contest for high school students. Much like the music festivals we used to have in school. Students choose a poem or speech to recite, or they can write their own.

Here is the speech my student has chosen to recite. I commend her.

The Perils of Indifference
Elie Wiesel

What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference." A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil. What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?

Of course, indifference can be tempting ---more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair.

In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it.

Indifference elicits no response. Indifference in not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor ---never his vicitim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees ---not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.

Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

a bold prediction...yeah, right

today, but really tomorrow in my 'home country', is election day.

as usual, i didn't vote. i think i've voted once in my years of eligibility...about 10 years ago -and only because it was the first time i could, so i did.

here's my prediction -knowing nothing about what any of the parties stand for or what's at stake.

the liberals will still lead Canada-land after January 23, 2006.

in other words, nothing will change. if something does and the bloc get in or the tories...well, maybe i'll pay more attention to politics.


Free pass to Seaside!!

I have now visited the Seaside Valley Ski Hill enough times to get a free pass!
Seaside offers a stamp card and after 4 day lift tickets you can ride a day for free! I've actually been to Seaside 5 times already, but one was only a half day so I couldn't count it.

Saturday was another brilliant sunshiny day at my favorite hill. Amy, Kirsten and I packed up the Beetle and headed out bright and early Saturday morning. I hadn't even intended on snowboarding that day because I was meeting friends on Sunday at another ski hill and I didn't think two days was a wise thing to do. However, the lure of Seaside was too much to pass up.
So Friday evening was nice and relaxing -a visit to 'An' (my favorite spa) and pigging out at Kito Kito (my favorite sushi restaurant) with Kirsten and Amy.

We went strong all morning long, checking out as many of the runs as we could. The snow wasn't great, but that didn't stop us from having fun! We met up with a some of the boys from Koshi in the afternoon and picked up a few pointers from these much more experienced riders.
We left the hill around 4 - exhausted and totally satisfied with our day.

We all decided we could do it again on Sunday! ...but only a half day.

So, another early night, another early morning.
We watched the sun come up from behind the mountains, illuminating the snow-covered trees and valleys as we made our way to Raichou Valley - a very popular ski hill for those who live in and around Toyama City -it's right in their backyard.

On the lift before 9:00, we got in a warm-up run before meeting up with Owen -the skiier in our group (we tolerate it....). A few more runs to warm up and we were off to the gondola lift to meet up with my friends Ai and Kazu whom I met while working at NOVA. Ai is a pretty hard core boarder and Kazu follows her lead as she blasts down the hills. We had a great morning with them, stopping for a hot chocolate break and a tan line check before heading back down the mountain at 1:00. Lunch in Owen's home town and a blizzard on the way was another enjoyably exhausting day.

I'm addicted.