The Aroma of the New
Commencement Address at Belhaven University
By Makoto Fujimura
I am grateful to be given this honor: an honor that is symbolic of the commitment to the arts that Belhaven University, Dr. Roger Parrot, and your Board of Directors have made. You are making a statement; that the arts are fundamental to the core of higher education. The arts are not a peripheral luxury for the elite few, but a central necessity, how a civilization is to be deﬁned, and how our humanity is to be restored. The arts, like the spring flowers all about Belhaven this day, bring the aroma of the New.
I have just returned from Japan where I saw ﬁrst hand the enormous devastation from 3/11—the massive earthquake, the Tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear disaster. I visited the small ﬁshing village of Ishinomaki in northern Japan, a beautiful coastal town swept away by a series of tsunamis, one of which reached 30 meters high. My friend Emiko, who grew up in Ishinomaki, now ﬁnds her home and her parentsʼ business gone, though they themselves were spared having been in Tokyo at the time. The aroma—the stench—of death ﬁlled the air as I walked about the region. I saw rice ﬁelds inundated with salt water, ﬁshing vessels in the middle of streets, trucks still ﬂoating in the rivers. After a month, volunteers with masks and orange overalls are still helping residents salvage what they can, helping one house at a time.
Read the whole address here.