The news portrayed images you can’t forget. A sea of cars washed away by a giant wave, a boat decapitated by a bridge, and houses enveloped within one second, without hesitation. The most striking of this montage was a woman who waved a white sheet on the top of her home which was surrounded by water.
It’s the part of the Japanese earthquake coverage that riveted me. What was her story? Did she get rescued? Were her children safe? What was she doing minutes before the earthquake? Will she rebuild again? How will she piece her life together again? And how will the thousands who are affected do the same?
With the impending potential chaos of the nuclear reactor, the massive wave of people washing lifeless on the shore, I am certainly at a loss, not knowing that kind of heartache and anxiety. I am in my suburban bubble, living in normalcy. It is definitely difficult for me to relate to a disaster of that magnitude.
I’m also reminded again about how geography defines us and how it governs our individual destinies. It is a part of life that I don’t understand, but respect. In the same vain, I will never understand what the people in Japan are going through, but a very large part me empathizes the tempo of their loss.
In honor of the victims, I will be bowing my head in silence for one minute. I realize it doesn’t solve the madness of their chaos, but it is a sign of respect. It is acknowledging that the world isn’t just about you, but about others too. It is my small way to honor the mothers, the fathers, the children, and the families who are no more. Won’t you do the same? There are some things we don’t understand. In the way I don’t understand the devastation, I also can’t quantify the power of collectively honoring those who have lost their lives by engaging in a moment of silence.
I’m hoping our collective silences may perpetuate a sense of goodwill and resilience for the people in Japan.
Do natural disasters make you think about your own life differently? How do you reconcile the normalcy of your life and the devastation in other parts of the world?
Image via Official US Navy
I will do the same. Like you, I will probably never understand the magnitude of such a disaster, being in this bubble myself, but I could certainly take a moment to show my respects. Thank you, Rudri, for helping us remember that even simple (but meaningful) acts matter in times like these.
Justine: We can only understand what we experience. With that, I do believe most people are empathetic and understand the immense loss that the people of Japan are feeling. I believe that a moment of silence helps us pay respect and honor those who have passed and those who are left to pick up the pieces from such a deep loss.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
I can’t imagine living through and dealing with such immense devastation. Your moment of silence gives me a simple, but significant, way to pay respect and pour out my prayers for the nation and every person in it.
My hope is that our collective goodwill will give solace to those in Japan.
Suburban bubble is right!
I can’t imagine the horrible conditions they are enduring. I don’t know how they feel or what that kind of loss of mothers, fathers, childrens, spouses might feel like. I’m sitting at my office, sipping tea, and in a few hours will drive home to embrace my husband, touch the walls of my home, and thank God that we live in the mountains and not near the Pacific Ring of Fire or a nuclear reactor.
Nikole: The tragedies in Haiti, Chile and Japan just makes me really hug my loved ones tighter and relish how good life can be.
I don’t think we have the capacity to understand the magnitude of such devastation. My prayers are with the people of Japan.
It is so overwhelming and all encompassing that is hard to imagine how people have the capacity to move on. But they do. We all do.
In a similar thought, I pulled out some long forgotten origami paper and folded a crane. Thinking, the whole time about this tremendous, unfathomable loss.
I love the thought of you folding a crane and thinking of the people of Japan. Thanks for this beautiful image.
Somehow understanding that we simply cannot understand, but can love—even others we don’t know (or at least wish them love), wishes and empathy which compels us to think of these others (who are our kindred beings, who share DNA with us in their bones). We speak and write our way to silence, and to the slight hope that love picks us all up from there.
I appreciate your analogy here. I also hope that with this collective silence we can build bridges of what we can’t see: connecting with others through hope and love. Thanks for this thoughtful comment.
It’s horrible and definitely puts things in perspective.
I think it immediately makes you grateful for what you have.
It is so sad and really hard to imagine that it is actually taking place. Seeing the old carry the young on their backs (NY Times photos) has been really heart wrenching and hopeful to see. It is so weird how many things (possessions, success, etc) seem so important one second and then they just aren’t in the next moment. And I agree that geography defines so much about how we live and what we do…
I agree Judy. Everything that you worry about seems less so when people are dealing with survival issues. The images are too overwhelming to watch.
Thank you so much for writing this heartfelt post. The whole side of my husband’s family is in Japan and we have many friends, clients and colleagues there. It’s been an emotionally trying half week. But what has meant the most to us is friends, even those I have only “met” through cyberspace, writing to say, “I’m sorry.” I’ve learned that one doesn’t need to do anything, but simply acknowledging and respecting go a very long way in bringing comfort. Thanks again, Rudri.
I’m sorry about the anguish you and your family must be going through. My cousin lives 150 miles from the epicenter of the quake and things were intense and chaotic for a period of time. She and her family returned to India. She is feeling an incredible loss, not knowing when or if they will able to return to what they have called home for over 15 years.
I believe cyberspace is a great way for connection and comfort. I’m amazed everyday at the strength and compassion of people I “meet” online. I’m hoping your loved ones are safe. Wishing you some peace in this trying time.
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been ignoring the news coverage because it has all felt so incredibly unfair/devastating/overwhelming to me. Thank you for pushing us all to acknowledge the devastation and remember the people of Japan.
It is this sense of helplessness that grips me too. In the last few days, I’ve not followed the continuing nuclear reactor coverage. I feel like I am watching a live time bomb on television. I just don’t feel right about it.
Thanks for your kind words.
I’ve been watching closely. I’m in California, earthquake country. It’s a fear I live daily. I cannot imagine the conditions they are living with now.
Cathy: I look at images on the internet and television and am unable to fathom how they are all coping. Along with the devastation and the growing nuclear reactor problem, there are so many unanswered questions. It’s the uncertainty, combinged with the collective grief of it all that makes it difficult to cope.
I imagine living in CA, you live with the uncertainty of when a quake may happen. I empathize with your fear. And wish you continued safety.
This has been riveting and horrifying. Like you, I think about geography. I also think about my good fortune – healthy kids, a roof, food, a bed. And I think about how quickly we “forget” about disasters that don’t touch us personally. What about Katrina? What about 2004?
All I know to do is reach out to someone close and be grateful. To reach out to someone who might need my help, in some small way. To remember we are connected. And we are impacted. All of us.
I’m always wondering why it has to happen in our backyward for us to be truly impacted. We do forget. Why does it take tragedies for us to be grateful for what we have? I include myself in this category too.