This will be about anti-consumerism (and my lame attempt at telling a joke in Japanese).
As you’ve probably figured out already, I’m Eastern European, which means that (by definition) I stand against consumerism.
I believe I can define “necessity” (i.e., having enough to eat), although I have to say that I’ve been living in comfort in Japan for the last 15 years and I’ve become fairly spoiled myself.
I have to tell you that I live in the middle of what is probably the most consumerist society that’s ever been developed.
I’m not sure about this because I haven’t lived in other societies with these standards of living, although (from what I can gather) most Europeans and the Americans feel pretty much the same (not to mention the fact that everybody else is now racing to catch up).
People buy stuff, and they’re really happy about being able to buy (lots of) stuff, and they talk about buying stuff, and they worry about buying the right stuff…
Back to the joke:
We (=me and a couple of friends) were on this bus, going on a snowboard trip. Among these friends, there’s this nice, cute Japanese young woman and she has this hat, a bunny fur hat. Now, don’t get me wrong: This hat is really nice, this is the thing you want to have because it’s going to be cold (we’re going snowboarding).
Everybody talks about the hat, the bunny-fur, the bunny-skin (I-don’t-know-what-you-call-it) hat.
And I’m just sitting there, trying not to spoil the mood, because I don’t want to be Igor again:
The grim, always sour, Eastern European, always thinking about the negative, death, painful stuff; but all I can think about is the bunny, what used to be a bunny.
I don’t mind it on principle (like certain animal rights activists would): I could kill a bunny, if it came to that; I wouldn’t like it, but I could (if I had nothing else to eat).
Like many other people coming from developing countries, I have seen at some point chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs etc. being killed. If you’re Romanian I guess you even participated (to prove you’re a “real man”).
A chicken being decapitated would be a pretty common thing to witness if you come from a developing country. It’s a messy affair (in case you wonder).
I guess that’s why so many people are meat-eaters: If more people knew about it, fewer people would eat meat, because it’s so messy.
However, people don’t want to know about it, because it’s in the supermarket and it’s nicely wrapped in plastic.
Anyway, back to the joke: We have the bunny hat and everybody talks about how nice it is, and I’m just sitting there trying hard not to destroy the good feeling.
After about half an hour, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I said (in Japanese):
|I’m betting that the rabbit, right now, is saying to himself:
“Oh, I’m so glad it was not for nothing that I ate all those carrots”
Of course, everybody’s reaction was
“What the hell! Is this a joke?” Yeah, it’s a kind of joke:
Remembering the rabbit, the bunny, who ate all the carrots, so as to warm us up.
It’s amazing how little we realise about the things that surround us, about how they came to be around us, about how many plastic objects were drilled from the ground (oil products, right?).
How many plastic things are there, around you, right now? Probably you’re holding one in your hand, if you have a smart phone (some parts of it dug out of the ground).
Do we think about their origin? How messy it was to pick it up? No, we don’t want to think about it.
We do think about how we can use this stuff, and we talk about it: I got a really nice phone, it has this special function (does it have a good signal?) and all that. We don’t think about how it came to be, how it came into our hands, so that now we can use it.
We don’t think about it: It’s too complicated.