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An Opportunity for Worldwide Reflection

On March 11th, 2011, the biggest earthquake and tsunami in our history hit Japan. It brought numerous tragedies and damages, and it created a massive impact on our economy and hearts. However, none of the Waldorf schools had direct physical damage except a few nursery schools in the northeast of Japan. Thankfully, no children were harmed in these locations. Among all the damage we have had, the on going threat of nuclear contamination has been spreading without respect for boundaries of time or space.

Andrew Wolpert, who recently visited us in Japan, shared his insights over this recent crisis. There is no chemical solution for cleansing the earth of this radioactive contamination. However, the earth can be transformed through human activities. By recognizing the earth as a spiritual being, because matter IS spirit, we help transform the earth. Also, by conscientiously ingesting and digesting the fruits of the earth, we change the nature of the earth. Perhaps most importantly, we must strive to connect with each other. He reminded us that we are tightly connected in the spiritual world, but that our physical bo- dies here on earth separate us from each other. However, we are still part of one, common humanity, and by meeting each other openly, we transform the earth.

However there have been some positi- ve outcomes in this crisis. As educators, we have new responsibility towards our children for their physical and emotio- nal well being, because these younger children are most susceptible to radi- ation. During these difficult times, we have renewed our sense of identity as Waldorf educators because we experi- enced the value of movement, rhythm and art as therapeutic effects. Indeed, these elements are the very foundation of Waldorf education. In addition, the nurturing of each child’s imagination helps to sustain a positive view of the future. The Emergency Intervention group led by Mr. Ruf visited the epicentre from April 27th to May 9th. Their work in local elementary schools was most appreciated. 

Finally, some politicians, scientists and economists have awakened and realize how fragile our current social structures are as a nation and they recognize the need for an alternative life style. At the Kolisco meeting, which consists of the Kindergarten Association, Medical Association and all Steiner Schools in Japan, the wish developed of handling these (also political) issues in a more unified way. Waldorf education in Japan conti- nues to mature despite these circum- stances. Kyotanabe Waldorf School has celebrated their 10th anniversary this year. Three of the schools are accre- dited as UNESCO schools. And Fujino Steiner School is in the critical process of high school accreditation. If accepted, the Fujino Steiner School would be the first accredited high school in all of Japan. We expect the result from the Kanagawa Department of Education by the end of October.

In closing, we are encouraged by the on going work of many colleagues. Our daily life becomes a true celebration of St. Michael. The events in Japan stimulate reflection - perhaps not only here but worldwide.

Rieko Hata
 - Eurythmist, Fujino Steiner School

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