We all saw the images; towns being leveled in a matter of seconds, vast areas of agriculture likewise being wiped out and contaminated with toxic debris. On top of all that, four critical nuclear reactors that still, after three weeks have not been brought under control with radioactive contamination reaching abnormal levels all the way to Tokyo and the surrounding area becoming dangerous with contamination in agricultural products and drinking water. It's a nightmare of the worse proportions right now in Japan.
So what's to be positive about? Well, plenty if you really take a look at how the Japanese people have handled this crisis. First off, there has been no looting and violence. I wonder what the reaction would have been had the coastline from Orange County to San Diego been devastated, or the Jersey Shore. The Japanese have reacted in a calm purposeful manner to this overwhelming crisis. They search for loved ones and share whatever they have in a communal fashion. Every report about the personal response to this horror is positive. Perhaps that's why the American news media is not doing a very good job of covering this crisis on a personal level. . . it would make us look really bad because everyone knows how Americans would respond.
When I read about the young woman who spent all her time looking for her best friend until her money was gone and she had to go back to work I wonder how many people in other places would have made their friend their top priority.
The NY Times describes the people as follows in a Mar. 25th editorial: "much is striking about Japan’s response to two weeks of serial disasters: the stoicism and self-sacrifice; the quiet bravery in the face of tragedy that seems almost woven into the national character."
What would our national character be in the face of such overwhelming tragedy?
There are no riots, jacked up food prices, hoarding, brazen politicians making political statements, or corporations blaming others. No, in Japan the president of the energy company that owned the nuclear facilities has been hospitalized with distress, high blood pressure and a rumored nervous breakdown. In America, corporate CEOs would have been cashing out and getting out.
Just think back to this past summer and the actions of politicians and corporate execs when BP blew the well in the Gulf. The response in itself was tragic.
Here Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko talk to survivors.
Think about the people who are trying to control the nuclear reactors. The truth is that they are probably committing suicide in order to save their nation. That alone should make us all pause and reflect on our own ability to serve others.
How much like the Japanese would Americans be in the face of such tragedy? How willing would we be to face a challenge with such self sacrifice and a true deep regard for the welfare of others around us?
Are we capable of such empathy?
I think that we as a nation need to contemplate who we are and how we act toward others and work to become more like the example that the Japanese have set for us and the whole world.
Let's look upon the Japanese people and realize that there is still hope in this world. . .that there are still people who are capable of being the best that humanity has to offer and then let's try and be like them.