Shinzo Abe’s tragic and shocking death has been widely reported and many excellent obituaries have given us a chance to appreciate the man and his achievements. I shall not attempt to write another obituary here. There are two aspects of his assassination that have received, in one case much and in the other case rather less attention, that I think are worth commenting on.
The first is the surprise that such an event should happen in normally peaceful and tightly-gun-controlled Japan. Such events sadly occur regularly in the United States. But since WWII Japan has maintained an image of individuality and peace that we have come to admire and respect. To have this image broken, even if the event was a purely one-off occurrence, is disturbing for both the Japanese people as well as for the rest of us. Stability is an often neglected virtue because of the race to invent new processes and cures in the interests of “an easier life”. Mistakenly, this is sometimes thought to be a happier life. But when we see stability shaken as in climate, economics and war we know that for millions of people life is about to become harder. Evidence of a stable world is much in need right now.
Less attention has been paid to the frightening shift the Abe assassination has made in our expectations for our own country. Every Government in the world must be scanning its security programme to see what risks are likely now to be faced by its rulers, visitors and population. This is the right action to take. In the same way, each thinking individual must reassess his or her vulnerability and that of their family. Similarly, business managers and all those responsible for the safety of others will be weighing up the benefits of increased watchfulness compared with the costs of improving safety. Business, as the main earner of the resources, is increasingly and rightly being asked to shoulder more of the costs and disciplines needed in a VUCA world.
Every time we are reminded how violent and unpredictable the planet is becoming, our own situation naturally comes first to mind. Alas, securing ourselves without thought of others, is a cul-de-sac approach – just as ensuring our own financial position without care for the less well off is pointless, too. For some reason, moving out of the village into the town made us personally more alert but less sensitive to the needs of the community. The evidence that this is being addressed is the growing number of clubs, organisations and societies devoted to helping the unfortunate. These are mostly doing a terrific job. It is important, however, to remember that the best gift we have is time with another. Lose that and the gift of one’s time for another is lost.
Abe’s murder affects us all. And out of this tragic and worrying event may we be able to help restore the stability that appears to be on the brink of being lost.
And may Shinzo Abe rest in peace.