Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Sunday, 19 June 2011
Monday, 20 June 2011 00:00

“Surviving” is not good enough

More than once, when times at work or in relationships had been rough, I was encouraged by friends and companions to try my skills at “survival.” They meant by this that, sometimes, you cannot do better than sticking to your task, maintaining the trade or the organization you are responsible for, and waiting for better days… There is a kind of wisdom in such advice, but, over the years, I have been led to recognize that this was not very good wisdom: when you just aim at “surviving’ you are not very much “alive’ already… Slowly but surely, “surviving’ becomes the atmosphere that you breathe and exhale, and routine gains over the forces of imagination, passion and rebellion. My own advice may sound far-fetched, but is still the fruit of what I have experienced: in times of utter difficulties, do not aim at living less, but rather at living more, and more intensely. For sure, this might involve things such as to keep one’s head down for a while, cancel some projects, find ways to do more with less… but still, do not consider these limitations and expedients as a “survival” strategy; rather, let the challenges you are meeting with teach you daily lessons about change, inspire you new dreams and continuously enlarge your perspectives. In other words, always strive for revival. Yes, “revival’ – rather than “survival” – has to be the force that keeps us walking.

Till recently, I considered such ideas as belonging to the “private domain”, as to be shared only with a few friends when the climate was at sharing and confiding to one another. But I am more and more struck by the number of colleagues and friends who experience tiredness or even psychological exhaustion, who wonder how long they can go as they do, and who still do not see a way out. And I sometimes recognize in myself the old temptation: to be satisfied with “survival’ rather than aiming at “revival.” I am more and more convinced that this is not only a psychological phenomenon that would be due to some strange and sudden accrued frailty of the human species, but that we meet indeed with a social, global phenomenon – and quite a recent one: it seems to me that the aftershock of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 has been minimized, and that no real lesson has been drawn from it. After much talk about changes called for by the lack of sustainability of the current model, there has been a muted consensus to just continue like was the case before – on the basis of finance-driven profit, continuous time pressure and the taking of short-term risks. What is here at stake is not only the perpetuation of an economic model, but of a cultural one as well. Still, everyone perceives that incentives provided by such a model are not as strong as they used to be, while dangers and uncertainties are recurring. We now live as if being stuck between two crises, the former one and the next to come, and, in the meanwhile, we try to cope with the pressure of the times, not knowing whether our efforts will eventually bear fruits or will vanish in a collapse. Increasing ecological problems and large scale natural disasters have added to the global gloominess. And risks become sometimes hard-felt realities, as the dire budgetary situation of several European countries reminds us now. In China also, inflation, unemployment and food safety crises have tarnished past optimism. In another domain, the most recent and tragic reminder of what the minimization of risks my eventually bring to has been provided by Japan’s nuclear crisis.

Can we do anything against such trend? The first thing is certainly to convince oneself that we are still able to make choices and decisions, so as to live our personal and professional life in a responsible and creative way. We are still entitled and called to renew our ways of proceedings, to change our lifestyle, and to refocus our own goals. Networking is another way to go beyond pressure and complaint, to exchange advices, ideas and encouragements in such a way as to empower one another. Finally there is an obvious need to renew political participation at the local and national level and, going one step further, to build up a real “international political space”, a space of deliberation and decision on our common challenges. Communities (be they local, national or global), not only individuals, are called to “revive” rather than merely “survive” – and the call is to be renewed day after day.



Monday, 20 June 2011 00:00

Welcome to the CEFC

(The CEFC team from left: Su Wei-jeune, Dr. Stéphane Corcuff, Dr. Tanguy Lepesant, Dr. Paul Jobin, Dr. Marylène Lieber, Dr. José Ramón Pérez Portillo)

Over the next few months we will be releasing videos of all the current researchers based at the Taipei branch of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC Taipei) to introduce their new research directions in Sinology and Taiwan Studies. We begin with director Paul Jobin and executive secretary Wei-jeune Su introducing how CEFC Taipei operates, it's aims and what services and resources it provides.

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