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Patrick Kawahara   Contributor -- California


Please check out his website for fantastic photography from a gifted
young artist!   


A soon-to-be college graduate asks: “Society has primed and prepped us for the corporate world, but what are we to do with a degree and a failed economy?”

   The willpower to accomplish the tasks of others’ expectations is typically what we base our nine-to- five on. From the moment we open our eyes, we establish the battle at hand, be it getting out of bed or mustering the courage to deny the "snooze" button just one more time. It’s a funny dynamic that we hold within ourselves; perhaps it is the universal obsession with rushing, or the even more comforting encounters of the lazy personality. Whichever one is your poison, we all fall victim to it once or twice a week. However, there are always those mornings where you wake up exactly eight minutes before the alarm realizes it’s alive, and those eight minutes become your own personal victory. You think about the things only freedom of time grants, and allow yourself to wander in and out of conscientiousness. Where am I going with all of this, you ask? I am recently very intrigued with how personal victories grant such inner success.

    We wake, and fall each day to a set list of obligations, and within those obligations fall certain personal goals and realizations. People say that as we grow older we often lose our creativity, our innocence. I would agree; from the first time you caught yourself cheating during a grade school spelling test, to the real world of corporate America, in the end it feels the same. I have always felt that being content is a must, but being satisfied is completely different: how are we supposed to allow ourselves to be satisfied in a world where anything is possible? Perhaps it is the youth that hides inside of me, but satisfaction is no longer a possibility, not in this life. I can remember when monsters were real and my fear of the dark was deeper than the fear of first light; it is the loss of fear that transformed my creativity into the mercury-filled robot mind that I currently entertain. Monsters have been replaced with blue book essays and financial stability, oh the life of an aging college personality! Yet what are we to do to be successful, give up on our creative thoughts and replace them with the ideals of corporate America? That grants us peace of mind and financial stability right?

      While the nightly news reports record unemployment and the imminent economic downfall of social society, we claim our innocence back with ignorance of minimum credit payments and three dollar cups of coffee. Falling for the credible image of corporate America is no longer as stable as we once thought. Society has primed and prepped us for the corporate world, but what are we to do with a degree and a failed economy? I feel that there are many youths out there that have a natural affinity for the creative arts, and in this day and age have more and more outlets to express it. Yet there are very few of us that have been encouraged to embrace the artistic side of our souls; more often than not, it is the ever-present encouragement to do something safe and stable… then and only then are we "allowed" to acknowledge our inner creativity. But in times such as the current ones, what are we supposed to recognize as "stable"? ...being an artist today is equal with being a job-hunting lawyer. The inner comfort we feel from creating with our minds is something we should not ignore, something that we should not deny.

    So what is the point of saying all of this? I am always astonished by the power of the individual, how in the end we are the ultimate say of who we are. So I put this out there as a confused young adult caught between his creative mind and the greater acceptance of the corporate world: do we choose to give in during this time of harsh acceptance towards the art world, or do we encourage the potential of our inner creativity and stand on our own two feet, showing not just the world but ourselves that we can handle our own desires? To be honest, I don't know how to answer this for the life of me, but in so many ways it is the power to ask myself this question that gives me hope in finding the right path. So here is to you, the honest reader that holds each glass a little bit more half full than half empty: it is never easy to be true to yourself but the possibility is always there.

Reprint from an earlier edition:



Editor Karen's note: March marked the 66th anniversary of the beginning of 'Manzanar Relocation Center,' a Japanese American Internment Camp that opened in March of 1942. I asked Patrick to write an article in remembrance of the milestone...  all photos are by Patrick as well.



To most, Manzanar is the rest stop on the way home from Mammoth. Very few recognize and understand that Manzanar was the location of an internment "camp" during World War Two. Which is fine, chances are your history class touched on it for a
record-breaking one day of the Axis Power study unit. Yet we can't blame under-funded public school systems for everything. Some 120,000 Japanese Americans were uprooted
from all that was familiar,  becoming instant aliens overnight. Socially outcast as well as
stripped of their constitutional rights, Japanese Americans were forced into holding pens and shipped off to government internment "camps". 

Instead of a fact-filled history lesson that will be read but have no importance to your memory, I will attempt to explain something that happened before my time but still lives within my makeup to this day.  

Pearl Harbor was the magnifying glass, and the concentrated beams of sun were the internment "camps." Manzanar was one "camp" out of many that distinguished the lives of so many Japanese Americans. It was wartime, a time of great suspicion and paranoia. Not too different from the current day. Countless families of Japanese decent  were forced to leave their homes and belongings; some were fortunate enough to have 
close friends to watch over their things. Most did not have such luck, selling their  material possessions quickly and  cheaply; they might as well have just been given away.  It was a sad time. Many non-Japanese Americans were also baffled at the notion of these"camps," and questioned the government’s motives. Yet the common mob mentality was that the "camps" were a great idea, and if anything, they were for  “the greater security of the Japanese American population.” 


    To this day the argument of morality is still debated, although, I don't see how it can be argued. The general public shunned the Japanese culture, throwing racial slurs and tension around like it was the newest trend. 

We claim that our lives are full of social problems, but really who are we to judge in this world of complete and utter hatred towards each other. We can look back on a time such as the 40's and 50's and say it was a different time, a different mind and motive from today. Yet the power of greater society has an impact more deadly than any weapon. Even in the daily motions and monuments of today we see life as nearly impossible, slightly less than tangible, a void of all decisions.  Yet what we fail to recognize is the truths that we hold within ourselves.  The lesson to be learned here is that in times of stress we will always blame, always hate, and yell. It is important to understand situations. We have the luxury of education and the privilege to find answers to our curiosity. There is no excuse to be angry at anything without being educated about it. If we just took the time to recognize and analyze, chances are we would be better off not only as individuals but as a complete society. Even though our freedom of voice and action is getting stripped from us more and more with each passing bill, we still have a voice that we are responsible for.  

-In this entry I put the word camp in quotes for a reason. For many Japanese -Americans internment camps were in reality "prison", "death", "concentration." See it how you will, for this writer wishes not to stir up bad blood, but instead to voice his opinion. My grandparents lived through the experience, all in different camps, all having different stories. I wish to convey my respect to all those out  there that had, and have, to endure wartime prejudice. The saying is that we learn from our past  mistakes, but be aware that this could happen again, at any time. A suit and tie doesn't strip you of your idealism; we know our limits, but forget them so often.  





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