The horrific, recent events in Japan have captured the attention of the world. News services rarely headline good news, but headlining a humanitarian issue rather than one of war or corruption, can actually help in some ways. An earthquake that actually shifted the Earth on its axis and measured 8.9 on the Richter scale (although some say it was higher) occurred as the Asian continental plate buckled, around 100 miles east of Japan. This sudden upward thrust of the plate caused a tsunami that radiated across the Pacific ocean.
Japan has been subjected to numerous natural disasters. It’s location on Earth means that it is more susceptible to Mother Nature’s wrath than other countries. It’s not a massive island and when something like this happens, it affects the whole country and not just a region. Any loss of human life is terrible and the loss of thousands is so much worse. The problem is that when a single person dies, the name becomes the headline; when thousands die, they become statistics and the news, unintentionally I’m sure, dehumanises them to mere numbers. There are just too many names to list and it is a shame.
The natural disaster that caused the Tsunami soon fades into the background as the humanitarian issue becomes more prevalent. Once everything has calmed down, the actual realisation of the numbers of people lost become more apparent as bodies are found and more people are noticed missing. Sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles, they are all parts of families that have already lost so much and have more heartbreak ahead. I am sure that the most of us wish nothing but hope and good luck to them all.
To add insult to injury, Japan also had to contend with a problem with one of their nuclear power stations. As a result of the tsunami, the power station immediately shut down and diesel generators began to cool the radioactive rods that provide the power for the plant. Unfortunately the tsunami smothered those generators and the rods no longer cooled. This caused problems including explosions and radiation leaks. The Japanese tried their best to control the situation and many brave people, knowing the risks, volunteered to stay and help resolve the problem.
That was over a week ago now. Japan is now taking account of the huge humanitarian disaster as well as economic. Brave people continue to battle at the nuclear power station, risking their lives each day, not from immediate harm but the slow and lethal harm of radiation poisoning. Those in communities that have been wiped off the map sift through the wreckage, some seeking anything from their former homes that is salvageable, other seeking family members, hoping against hope for their survival but realistic about their chances. Rescue workers from around the world help, but their role as rescuers has been replaced by that of recoverers. As the seas calm and those people that were lost to its violence just days before are washed back onto the shores, their bodies are recovered, usually with a rescuer saying a short prayer for them.
Throughout it all, the people of Japan have remained stoic and calm. Rescue shelters housing hundreds of shocked, homeless people are doing their best to feed and keep those affected warm and safe. However, the infrastructure took a severe battering and supplies are slow in getting through to the areas worst affected and still the people remain calm and composed. They accept what little they have to eat and drink and share it with a loved one, all the while and all around them lay the reminder of the carnage that changed their lives forever.
Elsewhere in the world, doomsayers and selfish, self centered people worry about themselves. Some worry about a radiation cloud that will never reach them, claiming all the time that the Japanese were at fault and the risks to their own personal comfort is at risk. All the experts know that there is no risk but there is no telling these people. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they are too conceited to know that.
Others in the world are doing everything they can to help. It amazes me that humans can be so generous and caring yet have the capability to hate and war against each other. Why does it take a disaster like this for us to realise that this is a fragile world and we are all sharing it, for better or for worse. As a soldier I have seen the extremes of human characteristics from the brutal to the selfless caring. It just confuses me.
The people of Japan will persevere. The character of the Japanese people will not let them be defeated by this disaster and the help from the world at large will ensure they prevail. I wish them all the best and hope that each and everyone of them finds some comfort and hope in the days and weeks to come. I am humbled by the way they have not let their personal difficulties overcome them and have remained strong and resolute. I salute those brave men and woman who continue to risk their lives for their fellow countrymen. Japan has shown us that mother nature can throw a blow at humanity and humanity will face the consequences with stoicism, resolve and compassion.