Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thinking of Japan...

In a sense I think we were a little disaster-weary a fortnight ago, having had a summer of fires and floods and earthquakes. A trifle desensitised to the tragedies unfolding beneath the lurid headlines and dramatic reporters. A little numb, albiet wary, and not quite as generous with our concern. And then along came Japan, and a massive earthquake that was itself, imagery-wise, quickly subsumed by the tsunami that followed. Rolling waves of dark water gathering trucks and cars and houses and airplanes like flotsam, pockets of determined fire tossed within the tide, the disembodied, shell-shocked voices of those filming the events, the occasional scream turned gasp turned stunned, disbelieving silence. A reporter, the following day, kept using the word apocalyptic, over and over, as if the English language was limited in the face of such devastation. And perhaps it is.

A modern, thriving, civilized, financially-sound, technologically-advanced country brought to its knees within minutes. Only to find the nightmare broaden to encompass a third disaster, this one with a potential fallout that is mind-numbing in itself. Nuclear - the word jerks as it is spoken, with the first syllable setting the tone for what follows. And we think Chernobyl, reflected across the sad-eyed faces of posthumous children, or Three Mile Island or any of a bevy of armageddon-type movies, with or without Will Smith saving the day. And we shiver, a little, as we should. Time has yet to tell what effect this unfolding disaster will have on the nuclear industry but one can only hope that we live and learn.

In amongst this horrible awfulness, however, for me, was a realisation of something positive. Something that gives me a glimmer of hope while we, as a world, continue blundering blindly forward like the proverbial bull in the china shop. Something that reflects the seismic shift that has taken place in our global consciousness over the past sixty years. Something that drove the immediate and heartfelt outpouring of sympathy and support and compassion from nations across the globe, from Australia to Canada, America to England, Israel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, Iceland, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Morocco, Mongolia and many, many more. 117 countries to be exact. Including New Zealand, themselves still reeling. And if we can step up to the plate as responsible, compassionate, mature global citizens when the chips are down, then there's no reason we can't do the same when they're not. There's strength in solidarity. And that's the way forward.

Thinking of you, Japan, and sending my very best wishes.

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