Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Thought Behind Kami Jin (Paper People)

When I started my story over 30 years ago, I started with a notion of creating a screenplay about an ordinary individual in the 23rd Century who gets caught up in a mass hysteria when war breaks out between a fictitious island of Napajan and the Republic of North America. The protagonist, a Napajanese-American, is forced into a relocation camp an lives a life similar to what the Japanese-Americans went through during World War II. At least that was the original premise of the story. However, as I procrastinated with the screenplay, personal influences and events in my life began to have a profound influence on the story and the screenplay shifted to a science fiction novel. Around, 1999 I personally was laid off as a consultant and couldn't find work for over 4 years. My retirement evaporated, my savings accounts wiped out, and mounting anxieties led to a downward spiral of my health forcing me into long-term disability. But as I managed to get on Social Security disability, I've seen others lose their homes and possessions. It reminded me of people treated inhumanely by society -- tossed out into the streets and forced to defend for themselves without any real form of assistance. It was like being used once in your lifetime, then tossed out. Very much similar to how we use paper plates -- we use them once and throw them away. Either you've become too old for the workplace, your skills are no longer needed, or you've been outsourced by cheaper labor by someone else in another country. "Kami" is a Japanese word for "paper." "Jin" is a Japanese word for person or people. It's as if common Americans have become like "paper people" or "paper plates" -- used once and tossed away. As one of the photos the slide show on my website clearly illustrates, "layoffs destroy lives."

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