Monday, March 14, 2011

A Word About Japan

A few of you have been asking me if I've heard about the earthquake in Japan.  (Also, thanks to those of you who've asked if I'm okay.)  I'm on this side of the world, and I'm twelve hours ahead of most of you who read this, so, yes, I have.  I've steered clear of the news this weekend because I knew it was bad, and I didn't want to focus on how bad it was.  I was in New York on 9/11, and people talking about how unthinkable it was that someone would fly planes into buildings didn't help any: nor did repeated news clips of the Towers buckling underneath plumes of smoke.  You know what helped?  People who sent their thoughts and prayers our way and found ways to actually help.  For a few brief moments, the city came together in a spirit of mutual solidarity that transcended any religious sect or political agenda.  Then the media stuck its big nose in it and we got back to our paranoid bickering.

Japan's got it way worse right now.  So instead of watching the news on the Internet and getting sucked into the morbid voyeurism, donate.  And send your thoughts and prayers.  I don't care if you're an agnostic, atheist (I won't tell if you won't), Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or Sikh.  This is not about religion; this is about the people of Japan.  They need our help.  As much as you can spare.  Sending a little unselfish love in their direction, no matter what color, class, or creed you are is the least we can do as human beings living together in a world that can go bananas at a moment's notice.

Which brings me to another reason I'm not watching the news: the media is generally not good at representing the massive amounts of love that emerges when a disaster strikes.  For every news story about the mother who can't find her children, there are many, many more about someone who sacrificed his life for someone he/she didn't know, or someone who against all odds survived beneath the rubble while volunteers dug him/her out.  There are volunteers on the ground right now, and more on their way.  Some of their stories of courage and selflessness will pop up here and there; others won't.  But it's important to remember that while the damage seems colossal--and it is--we can either focus on how much has been lost, or we can pitch in with the ones who are actually fixing this mess.

Let's stop talking about the problem and be a part of the solution.  For Japan's sake, and for ourselves.


  1. Thank you for saying this. It shocks me out of that voyeurism you were talking about to which I'm guilty.

  2. Great post! I agree that we shouldn't just gawk at the destruction, but instead we should find a way to fix it. :)

  3. I just wish the companies like Bing hadn't done twitter gimmicks with relief money. Thank god for authors who put up ARCs and other swag to help generate relief aid for charities that were on the ground the day it happened.

    News burn out is so dangerous thanks to 24 hour news. You hear a story about 3 people dying, half hour later the story loops again. Even though you're conscious that its the same story, internally you've registered 6 people dying. Multiply the half hours and the total number dead is still 3 but you're internally counting more. It's more than just voyeurism it can also be dangerous to anyone's mental health.