Not a good way to start a day when the sky is filled with the sound of American fighter jets thundering overhead, again and again. It’s a sound that invades even the deepest core of your dwelling. Luckily I don’t have to stay here all day; I’ll be leaving in a few minutes. But it didn’t make the grey air taste any sweeter…
Here is well-written and detailed look at what is happening here in Japan (and, by association, all over the world) concerning the bases. It provides a very good outline for one reason why so many people around the world are infuriated with America.
6 replies on “Thunder”
It is a horrible sound. Every now and then they do a very low tour of our valley. I am grateful we are not at present on a regular training route.
i’m not familiar with this, but why do the fighter jets fly around your area? i have been intending, with good intentions to write to you and say, first thanks. for passing by and posting a remark or two. secondly, i watched the human stain by anthony hopkins a few weeks ago, and later on, i re-watched monsters ball. i sincerly want to understand this thing called race. especially more so since im dipped right into the thick of things living in the states where i feel, the race factor is right there on your face. in a country such as kenya where the issue of race is not as obvious, there is the illusion of a homogenous community. which is not entirely the case. the sense of otherness i experience that in a day to day basis. being a black women, from africa with an accent. i am confronted with the colonial heritage that follows a post colonial person (?) to their grave. there is the issue of allegiance. where does my loyalty lie. i am not african american and neither african because i am not in africa i live in the west.
i suppose i am now in a place where inasmuch as i am defined around me as a person of colour. who is queer. a foreigner. rather niggerish in her ways, yet with bougeoise white (?) tendancies. it doesn’t bug me as much. its more like desiring to transcend this categories that are destructive in and of themselves. is like i’m pushed over and over again, to get off my butt and a) be absolutely honest with the internalized issues of fatphobia for instance, or racism. b) realise,as audre lorde puts it, the internalized part of the oppressor that has become mine. ie, the ways, i am becoming an oppressor and c) lastly, become more of a compassionate being. desire bodhisattvas.
forgive me, i have gone on and on.
I live in Japan. Japan is one of America’s subjects when it comes to military bases. About 40 kilometers from where I live lies Atsugi Air Base. My apartment lies right in the path of the incoming and outgoing fighters, bombers, military helicopters, cargo planes, and what not. Ever since the New York tragedy the air traffic has filled the air daily, both with the traffic from the American Air Force and the Japanese Self-Defence Force, I guess partly for training, and partly for the manuevers preparing for an attack from and on North Korea. There is a thunderous helicoptor that batters the air many afternoons for about three hours, not too far from my apartment. The noise is so loud I can’t hear my TV or speak to people on my telephone. All of this is a daily reminder of the madness building up around the world.
Thinking about race… well, that certainly is a difficult question. It’s something I’ve thought of all my life, but most especially after my father revealed to me at 21 that my grandmother was black (which made me Filipino. German, American Black- with Chinese, Danish, Jewish thrown in from various relatives in the family’s past). Somehow the sudden sharing of that information as if it were something to be ashamed of or feared worked its way into my heart like a slow poison. It forced me to start looking over my shoulder and wondering what other people might be thinking of me. I began to be acutely aware of the differences between people like me and others, especially whites and people who live in homogenous societies. I haven’t gotten paranoid or intolerant towards people who live more privaleged lives, but I am very careful about how certain people might act toward me now; I have no patience or tolerance any more for those who would look down upon me or any one else, even if they themselves are not aware that they are doing it. What is so disheartening and depressing is that there are so many white people (and of course others in societies where they themselves are the norm) who haven’t got a clue that they might actually carry the seeds of arrogance towards other races. It is very often hard to perceive it unless you actually experience it yourself.
Like you I have lived between cultures all my life. When I’m in one place I miss the other, criticize the other. It’s either Japan, Germany, or the States. The grass is always greener… But I wonder if really people like you and me are not the advance guard for a new development in the human story… people displaced from the traditional enclave and forced to see the world anew. It’s people like us who are going to understand the new problems facing the world’s populations today, because we have had to thinkseriously about them. The world is no longer the British or the Americans or the Israelis or the Palestinians. That’s what everyone fails to understand. The problems are something new… a hybridization of the human population, undetermined purely by ecological selection. And at the same time we are the forerunners of are purely, worldwide homogeneity. All the diversity packaged as something heretofore not known.
You are a bridge, Madame Butterfly, a step betwen America and Nigeria. Of both but now neither, too. It is only natural I think that you want both the richness of Nigerian culture and the comforts of American bourgeoisie. Who doesn’t want richness and familiarity and comfort and education all? Bring them together and create something new. That’s the only choice we have, I guess.
A well-written and researched article about America’s military presence here in Japan, and the furor it has raised.
I have read and re read this post and each time wished to express the chill of recognition and the trembling of my heart and found that I didnâ€™t have the words for a place where I feel thought and words are tended with care and consideration.
Â I will be honest and say I feel less than adequate in trying to respond to most of your posts Miguel because you write so beautifully, thoughtfully and with such heart that I am left oft times with such deep thought and emotion that it takes me many days if not weeks to find words to express some of what I would wish to respond with and then I feel that I have missed the moment and you are already two three or more posts along. I felt I wanted to try and say something and have tried a few times and each time it felt less than adequate, here I am trying again and this time I will â€˜commentâ€™ come what may.
Â I live in a very small country within another small country, Wales is my home country and the United Kingdom theÂ â€˜countryâ€™ that houses it. To many people across the border in England this is not seen as a different place and to be brutally honest the English have persevered over many years to stamp out any difference.Â The Welsh are well aware of what it is like to be colonised and be part of the spoils of an Empire, to find their valuable resources both mineral and man being shipped out and used up without backward glance. To have their language outlawed and their culture ridiculed and marginalised.
Â The Welsh have always prided themselves on their egalitarian, internationalist perspective on the world but that pride has been corrupted and now we who have been subjugated begin to feed into the racism, homophobia, xenophobia, plain brutishness and reaction rather than construction that seeps into all the nooks and crannies of our nearest and farthest neighbours dealings with others.
Â Having lived in places far from this land and found myself the alien, the outsider, the face to be stared at or spat upon I know a smidgen of what it feels like to be â€˜outsiderâ€™ but I also know that I am insider by dint of birth and colour of my skin in some of the most powerful countries in the world or I would be if I were able to get through immigration :0).Â For though I am white western woman, educated and schooled in the ways of being acceptable, the prescribed medication I take, the places I have lived and have stamped in my passport, the friends I have, the subjects I have raised my voice about make me unacceptable visitor in many places in the world.
So, today I find myself at home in a country I call my own but feeling less and less at home with the sense that genocide continues in this country and in so many others not in ways of bullet and blows but in the overpowering insistence that the way is to be like each other not to celebrate difference and diversity, not to consider the way attitude and understanding are bound together so closely that it is in the examination of ones heart that true revolution begins and is sustained.
It is not the low flying jets that buzz the valley or the huge American stealth bombers that practice their low flying manoeuvres over my shaking chimney pot that chills and annoys me â€“ though I do not care for the fact that the UK is one of USAâ€™s warships with enough USA controlled land and military here to not just make one pause for thought but realise that an island is just so much useful military hardware to certain â€˜gentlemen.â€™
Â What I am troubled about and try to look at myself for is the steady insistent death that is happening here and in so many other places around the world.Â It is death not by exploding bomb or axe handle bludgeon it is death by assimilation. That death which requires one way to express culture, one way to express, spirituality, one way to express political process etc etc.
I have no answers save that I know I must start somewhere so I endeavour to start with me. â€œ
Daisy-Winifred… please, please do not feel that your words are inadequate or badly put. Your comment shows clearly that you think deeply about these things and that, just like me, you are trying to come to terms with some very difficult quandries that are making us all reevaluate our lives. I welcome, and need the opinions, criticisms, and proposals by others just like you, because the problems we all face are communal and just too big for one individual to comprehend or change. What I write in these pages is always intended to be one voice among many and I will readily acknowledge when I am wrong or have soemthing new to learn.
One thing your comment did is cause me to remember that injustices and troubles exist everywhere, among all people. It doesn’t matter whre you look, but if you peel away the layers you will always find someone being wronged somewhere; you just have to delve deeper and smaller. If it’s not whites mistreating blacks, it’s English mistreating Scots and Irish. If it’s not English mistreaing Irish, it’s Londoners mistreating Midlanders. If it’s not Londoners mistreating Midlanders, it’s the London company boss mistreating the janitor. If it’s not the company boss mistreating the janitor, it’s the janitor mistreating his wife. The wife mistreating the children. The older brother mistreating the younger brother. Younger brother mistreating the pet dog. And on and on.
You make me think, too. And putting down whatever thoughts you can is a start in changing who you are and what you do and think.