Self-improvement has been a key theme for me in the past month. Aside from trying to be more creative, I’ve also been trying to learn new things. By that I’m not just talking about work-related things; I’m actually more interested in learning things about the larger world, or fields that I haven’t explored before.
This past weekend I’ve been watching a lot of programs on NHK World. I love all their documentaries. Most of them are naturally about Japan or Japanese topics, but occasionally they explore topics on world issues. I find everything they cover fascinating, like the topics below that they covered today.
1. Toemon Sano, the Cherry Blossom Guardian
88-year-old Toemon Sano is Japan’s leading expert on cherry blossom trees. Every year he goes to over 200 cities and towns all over Japan to help communities ensure their cherry blossom are healthy. It was fascinating to hear him talk about how the flavor of the cherry blossoms is less sweet when the trees have not had enough nutrition throughout the year, or how sometimes the efforts of the communities to preserve the trees actually led to the trees becoming unhealthy instead. When he talked about how worried he was about global warming, and that more people should care about the environment, I got a bit teary-eyed. It got me thinking that I should be involved in more tree-planting efforts, and that I should also encourage teenagers in my family and young people in general to consider a career in agriculture or environmental science. We definitely need more people like Toemon in the world.
2. Humanistic Capitalism by Brunello Cucinelli
When I was at the University of the Philippines, a lot of the people I looked up to were activists and had socialist or communist leanings. When I started my career, I honestly felt a bit bad for wanting to earn a lot, though I knew that the only way I could get my family into a better situation was to do just that. It felt like a betrayal to my academic roots to want to do well financially, but I did so anyway because I had to.
This short profile that NHK World did on Brunello Cucinelli and his view on humanistic capitalism was definitely an eye-opener for me. Cucinelli has built an empire on cashmere and luxury, but not at the expense of the people who work for him or the community he lives in. You can read specifics here. He has also done a lot to revive the area that he lives in, and talked a lot in the video profile about how people should not feel bad for wanting to live in smaller towns as the quality of life and relationships really is different.
I’ve believed for a long time now that earning money and wanting to earn isn’t a bad thing. Still, because of my experiences in university, sometimes when I hear the word ‘capitalism’, I cringe a bit. Now though, I think that humanistic capitalism is the key. As long as we don’t disregard the needs of our employees, our community, or the environment, then making money doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact it is necessary to support all those things.
3. Preventing Dementia
Geriatric care is a big issue in Japan at the moment, especially since they have an aging population. I learned that for the elderly, if they start walking slower than usual, this can often be an indication that they are at risk of dementia. Conversely, making an effort to do brisk walking at least 3 to 4 times a week, along with maintaining a healthy diet with less red meat, can somewhat reverse the risk. This is something I think I’ll research more about in the next few weeks or months. In my own family, both my parents are senior citizens now, so ensuring that they stay healthy for as long as possible is always at the back of my mind.
I also watched a lecture that NHK World aired by a French professor on global economics, specifically how parity between the rich and the poor has changed over the past 2 centuries as well as what the factors are. I can’t remember the name of the professor though and I can’t seem to find him on Google. I also can’t remember most of the lecture, however interesting it was while I was watching it.
I’m thinking of doing a learning update like this every week or so. I’m pretty sure I have cable TV in my new apartment, and I hope that aside from NHK World, I’ll also have Discovery or Nat Geo or something. Eventually I’m planning to get a master’s degree in something, though I’m not exactly sure what. When I figure that out, I’ll share whatever it is I’m studying on my blog. Sharing is caring, after all.