In the previous session of the interview with Lara, Chen Tien-shi (photo), which
was devoted to precisely defining the word "stateless," I found
out that both of us are only technically Japanese and that the two stateless
citizens are pursuing basically the same end.|
But this time around, it was revealed that there are two fundamental differences between us, as well.
On some important points we are diagonally different. Yet I'm inclined to say we are 360-degrees different, so to speak.
Y: Let's go on to the next question. Could you tell me how you view the
promise of the Internet in relation to the "social exclusion"
inflicted on millions of stateless people? I opine that we will see a borderless
world emerging on the horizon of the cyberspace only when we can put in
place something to be called E-democracy by leveraging the most modern web-based technologies.
L: Last year I met a "Gypsy" who holds triple nationality. He was talking about the same dream. But in reality, most of these people we are dealing with don't have the Internet access.
Y: Obviously digital divide is a formidable problem facing us. But not a few people are exerting utmost effort to overcome it. I know an American entrepreneur who has been working on commercializing a $100 computer primarily meant for schoolchildren in underdeveloped countries. He seems to believe that where there is a will, there is a way.
L: It's heartening to hear that.
Y: Now let's quickly talk about the relationship between individual citizens and the nation-state supposedly representing them. I believe that without individual citizens, there are no nation-states, whereas you can still imagine individual citizens without any nation to belong to. Would you agree to my statement?
L: No doubt about it. But once again, a stateless world is our long-term goal which won't materialize overnight. These people suffering from their statelessness today can't readily relate to that idea.
Postscript: Although I refrained from further elaborating on the reason for asking this question, I am deeply concerned about people's tendency toward ignoring the plain fact that the statehood and the citizenry living there are two separate entities. As I observe, the Americans are particularly ignorant in that respect. It is for that reason that I think Lara's memoir is worth translating into English for publication in the U.S.
Y: My last two questions refer to your religious faith and familial relations. To stress the positive side of statelessness, like you did in your book, you must be exceptionally strong. I think you are a Catholic. Do you feel your faith has helped you withstand the ordeal about your national identity?
L: Not really. I'm not that pious, and I'm not that strong in the first place.
Y (Producing Ben Hills' book titled, Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne): Have you read this book? This was virtually banned here.
L: I don't think I have.
Y: Hills writes here: "[Most Japanese] happily embrace a trilogy of faiths. They see no contradiction in being taken to the local Shinto shrine to be recorded at birth, marrying in Christian ceremonies, and having their bones buried in Buddhist family tombs." How do you compare yourself to these people?
L (With a wry grin): Of course, I'm quite different from them. I go to church every Sunday morning. I sometimes pray there: "God grant me the strength to overcome difficulty facing me."
Y (Looking to the other end of the place where all the family members had already started their dinner at a big roundtable): Now your mother is urging you to wrap up our meeting and join in the weekend family party. Before we wrap up, let me ask the same question about your family ties.
L: Yes, I owe what little strength I have to my parents, siblings, husband and son. Without them, I couldn't have done what I have done.
Y: Are all ethnic Chinese like this?
L: No, I don't think so. My parents fled mainland China and they were practically penniless when they landed here. All these things have cemented our family ties.
Y: Thank you so much for taking your precious time.
Lara was telling me the truth when she attributed her tendency toward accentuating the positive to her family. But at the same time, I suspected that the opposite must be equally true; she could also have attributed the family bonds to her own positive attitudes toward life.