While to most folks in the US, and probably most folks in the world (including myself) it seems like a strange idea for a person to pick up and move to another country, be it Canada, China, Honduras, Guinea, Japan or whatever. Before i came a lot of people would inquire whether or not i had a japanese girlfriend. No, actually i don't, i'm just going to go adventure for a while, see a bit of this planet before i die and make a stand in a foreign society. Recently i've been pondering a little about what the hell i'm really doing here, and it came up, that i'm really just doing this for myself. I suppose that's not a bad reason to do something, and when it all boils down to it, few if any people really do something for someone else. Volunteering, peace corps, joining the army and fighting wars, running for elected office; all of these things come down to the fact that the people who are doing them can justify what they're doing as good deeds which in turn makes a person happy.
It is my somewhat cynical view that all philanthropy can be reduced down to a large extent on the effect it has on the doer of the "good deeds" rather than the recipient. I honestly don't think that anyone would come up with the initiative to begin and continue on philanthropic works if he or she didn't get something back.
I suppose that i could use the previous paragraph to launch into a diatribe against doing any sort of charity towards others, but that would be stupid. Helping others, particularly those less fortunate is good! It's just that many people don't keep in mind the reflexive nature of good deeds. I know i don't.
I was kind of inspired to write this post because Sarah, a friend of jennifer and me from highschool is now working for an NGO in Afghanistan. Damn, that's a perfect example of philanthropy. She's engaged in frustrating, difficult and useful work in probably the second most dangerous country on the planet, right after Iraq while i sit in probably the safest country in the world.
An illustration of my situation is the shocking crime statistics for my city. In the past year alone i personally experienced 1 bicycle headlight theft and heard about an unsolved murder about 13 months ago. Scary isn't it. What's more, no one has guns in Japan! How am i going to protect myself if no one has a gun and no one thinks he needs one? I'm going to have to go and get me some swords and ninja stars.