Friday, March 18, 2011


It is hard to watch the reports and video from the earthquake and devastating tsunami that crashed upon the north-eastern part of the Japanese islands, a crushing wall of mud, sea, and debris that swept nearly everything in front of it, as deep as six miles into the interior, right through numerous cities, towns, and farmland. How fragile we truly are. One haunting video was shot by an American who luckily drove through a doomed city and reached safety, but the images of townsfolk stepping out of their businesses and homes and looking off toward the sound that must have been the wave, when you know they have little hope in a very short time, really affected me. The sight of a stunned woman sitting with a towering pile of rubble behind her was heart-rending. I can't even think about all the people---especially children---suddenly engulfed in the tide. Surely, there are hundreds of heroic stories, many which will never be known, of individuals who sacrificed to save others. I am humbled by the capacity of the Japanese to absorb such a tragedy and yet remain calm and helpful. One knows that would not be the case here, for the most part. Of course, we have many selfless and heroic people who would step up in commendable ways, but I doubt it would be as impressive and universal as what I have seen from the Japanese. It is daunting to think about the effort it will take to clear that mess, to find the bodies, to locate the missing (hopefully to be reuntied alive, and if not, given proper final rites). Thankfully, all of the families of those friends of mine from Japan seem to have escaped. Now, if the authorities can just stop the meltdown.

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