Tokyo Project

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Free to Be” represents freedom and equality for all.

On May 29th, 2015, Dhillon Marty Foundation conducted a flash mob at Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan  as a reminder that equality and freedom is for everyone. There were over 130 participants that showed their support for Free to Be, but the Free To Be message should not end there, therefore please watch, comment and share this video to show your support for equality.

To view the pictures from the event, please visit here

We plan to have Free to Be events all over the world to raise the voice for equality on a global scale. Please contact us if you would like to organize a Free to Be event in your city.

Free to Be in the Japanese Context

Freedom is an absence of restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s own rights and powers. It is a crucial concept in the human rights field globally, but Dhillon Marty Foundation believes it has an especially great significance in the Japanese society. As Japan suffers from high rates of suicide and depression, we believe the reflection on finding self is a remedy to such issues. Though often mistranslated as “selfishness” in Japan, freedom means finding yourself while being in the rhythm with the society. Such freedom will align within the self and with the society the sense of responsibility and contentment. Now, in order to truly understand the meaning of freedom, we would like to speak on the concept of freedom and selfishness, in relation to the Japanese culture.

Japanese people take pride in being a good member of the society by contributing to the societal harmony and not disturbing others. This is one of the values that helped the Japanese prosper in global scale, and is respected and admired by the world. Overemphasized virtue of conforming to the social norms and depriving self of personal needs leads to unproductive and dysfunctional human being. Conforming may create the illusion of financial and social security, but deprives the self of contentment. Thus, when such security is lost, people lose the wall they were leaning on and collapse, drained of mental energy and not knowing the way to recharge. In our minds, this lack of awareness on individual self-actualization leads to high rate of suicides and depression in Japan.

Thus, we must stop this mistranslation of the word; freedom does not mean being selfish, but it means finding yourself. Being free comes with responsibility; there is a balance to be worked out among individual freedom and communal harmony. The Foundation’s Free to Be campaign was launched to promote such idea to bring individual and social wellbeing in a sustainable balance. It is a self-awareness campaign to alleviate depression and social isolation through promoting individual freedom. In context of Japan, it is not only about discrimination of different groups, but here in Japanese concept, the focus is on the balance between the expressive self and the collective voice.

Today, the younger generations have trouble relating to older Japanese values of social responsibility. Traditionally, it was tied into sacrificing self for the society, its extreme case being Kamikaze. The Japanese youth today in fact seem to deviate from such values; ideas of self-sacrifice are often met with opposition and even repulsion, and “carefree” lifestyles where one solely focuses on self are often idolized. However, we must find the healthy middle way between the two extremes of self-sacrificing responsibility and total individual freedom. Such possibility of attaining the middle way was revealed in the aftermath of Fukushima, where people deliberately chose to act altruistically for the benefit of the society, as did the seniors who volunteered to defuse the nuclear meltdown despite potentially facing danger themselves. Having freedom does not mean one does not volunteer in such situations, but it means that one can recognize the trade off between the self and the good of the society. By seeking such middle way of social responsibility and individual freedom, the old Japanese values can be and must be translated into the modern context.