Why I walk: Rediscovering the Value of Life through walking
Shunsho Yamada, Founder, 7 Generations Walk
gLets live now, thinking of 7 generations of children following us.h
-Native American proverb.
There are many problems in the world today, the largest one being the global environmental crisis; global warming, radioactive waste pollution, and environmental threats to food and water supplies. When I think about these problems, I worry. I say to myself, gthere is nothing I, as one person, can do.h Have you ever felt that way?
Last year more than thirty thousand Japanese people committed suicide. Furthermore, the birth rate in Japan is at an all time low. I donft doubt that these statistics reflect a severe lack of hope in Japan. Until recently, I was plagued by hopelessness and thoughts of a dim prospect for humanityfs future.
However, believing that humanity is capable of positive change, I decided to be involved in several peace movements. Last year I participated in two events that reaffirmed my faith in human resilience and helped me to see the possibility for a bright future. The first was gThe Longest Walk 2h in the United States and gThe Article 9 Peace Walkh in Japan. ???
Dennis Banks, Co-founder of the American Indian Movement, coordinated The Longest Walk 2, which started in San Francisco and ended in Washington, D.C., following a route that Native American activists walked thirty years ago. The Article 9 Peace Walk was a non-violent effort against factions in the Japanese government working to remove article 9, the gno war, no militaryh clause from the Japanese constitution.
Itfs amazing how much you can learn by simply walking. You can rediscover the natural human pace and better understand your body and its relationship to the world around it. Modern transportation is undeniably convenient. By traveling in a car, bus, or train we get to where we want to go quickly, but we are sheltered from the surrounding environment.
Because we are sheltered we often forget the simple gifts nature has to offer; flowers on the roadside, fresh wind, the experience of being of walking up mountains and along rivers. In a car we donft get much chance to appreciate small towns or talk with people. We are also sheltered from the less pleasant side of the journey, air pollution and road side rubbish. Being ignorant of such things, we misunderstand ourselves and our relationship to nature. As a result we have turned into a society that destroys the natural world without thinking twice about it.
Who would deny that humans live by breathing air, drinking water and receiving the fruits of the earth? Nobody. Why then do we so rarely appreciate the simple things in daily life? I think no appreciating life hurts the hearts of many people in modern societies and could be one reason so many are unable to build up hope for the future.
I want to share the lessons I have learned by walking with as many people as possible. I want to invite people to join me in creating gvalues for a sustainable futureh during my walk from Osaka to Tokyo. Sharing the values that we create together through walking is the main goal of the 7 Generations Walk.
I asked myself the following questions while taking part in The Longest Walk and The Article 9 Peace Walk.
1-Right now, in this moment, are you really happyH
2-In the future will you still be able to see childrenfs hopeful smiling facesH
3-Is modern society poisoned by materialismH
4-Shouldnft we consider more deeply the problems facing human life and the planetH
Walking helped me to solve the answers to those questions.
1-I can certainly say that I am happy, because I rediscovered that my sense of feeling happiness is not about the possession of material things.
2-I will always be able to see childrenfs smiling faces . I know this because I too could smile like a child when I was bathed in the light of the morning sun during the walks. The sunfs light helps to nourish both our earth and our hearts. As long as we can feel the rising sun, children, as well as adults, can still have hope.
3-I myself am not poisoned by materialism anymore. I knew this when I realized that I could walk anywhere without a car. When I arrived at my destination after a long walk I felt real gratitude. I was moved more deeply more than ever before. I also had a deep understanding for the people who walked with me ? we knew that we needed each other. Through walking we built real human relationships. Through walking we could rebuild our relationships with nature. I realized that I could only maintain that relationship by keeping what was necessary in life and throwing away the things that were not necessary. I realized that I am not living by my own accord, but that nature lets me live. That realization gave birth to a grateful heart, which gave birth to songs and words of gratitude, which gave birth to hope and a smiling face.
4-Living means that we are allowed to live. I believe that the only way to solve our problems is if enough people change from a belief that life is only given once, to an attitude of gratitude towards the environment and people around them that allows them live.
Why the g7 Generations Walkh?
There is a famous Native American proverb: gLetfs live now, thinking of 7 generations of children following us.h Walk together with me and letfs together discover the values on which we can build a sustainable society for future generations. Through this walk we want to create a sustainable society for the seven generations to come while we pay our gratitude to seven generations of ancestors before us.