Saturday, June 25, 2011


June 25, 2011

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's June 25 issue.
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I recently bought a desk lamp to use at home, as the table clamp of the old one was broken. The new one has a bulb that uses a light-emitting diode, a kind of semiconductor light source.
Although it was a bit expensive, I paid the price as part of the times after succumbing to the ad displayed at the store saying the lamp consumes only about one-fifth of the electricity that an incandescent lamp uses but lasts about 50,000 hours.
Living a life of overindulgence, I often come home late at night, and use the desk lamp only for a few hours every weekday.
When I calculated how much I would use the lamp, it occurred to me that it would outlast its user.
As I started thinking about that, I began to feel, strangely, that rather than using the lamp, I am borrowing it from someone who would use it after me.
I once read somewhere a piece of wisdom handed down from generation to generation among Native Americans. As I recall, it went something like: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children."
This wisdom may have a little in common with my humble thoughts about my new desk lamp.
But it reminds me of numerous things that we borrow from our descendants but damage: for instance, satoyama woodlands near human habitations that are rich in biodiversity, the ocean and the air.
The latest natural disaster makes me think about important things, even when doing unimportant shopping.
(Jun. 30, 2011)

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