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Gambatte, Nihon! (Hang In There, Japan!) March 15, 2011

Posted by frrobins in Current Events, Uncategorized.
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The earthquake in Japan has shaken me more than any other natural disaster in my lifetime. I have never been to Japan, though I very much hope to one day. Yet for nearly ten years I have explored its culture, listened to its music and studied its language. Anime, manga, J-pop, and learning Japanese are passions that unite my husband and I in an interfaith marriage. I feel a connection to Japanese culture that is stronger than any other place hit by a major natural disaster in my lifetime.

What throws me is the lack of empathy I occasionally run into. I wasn’t surprised to see it. It rears its ugly head in every natural disaster. It goes like this: We shouldn’t feel sorry for those in Haiti or New Orleans because they’re poor and black. We shouldn’t feel sorry for those hit by the Indian Tsunami because they’re heathens. We shouldn’t feel sorry for those in Japan because they’re not Americans. Wow. I may have a bleeding heart, but it’s better than having no heart.

One piece of venom I see thrown around is that the US should not give foreign aid to other countries because no one gives us foreign aid during times of disaster. This sentiment is usually followed by some rather inflammatory remarks about the country in question and shouts to American supremacy. Well, the statement that no one helps us is wrong. During Hurricane Katrina plenty of nations gave us financial aid, medical assistance, and supplies. This stuff makes me wish people would look up what they say before spreading it around as truth.

The other thing is, black, white, red, or brown, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or atheist, rich, poor, or middle class, the people affected by these disasters are human. They have hopes, wishes, and dreams. They have families and loved ones. They have feelings. They had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is something that could happen to any of us.

Mother Nature is cruel. She does not care if you are a young baby or an old woman when she strikes. She does not care if you are struggling to make ends meet or have cash to spare when she attacks. She does not care about your color or creed. She moves in a way that is often random and still predominately unpredictable to humans. And the next person she could strike could be you or someone in your family.

I appreciate the view that we should not send financial assistance to other countries when we’re in so much dept. I can respect that you’d much rather do other things with your money than donate it to relief efforts. But to make disparaging remarks about a group of people down on their luck? Well, it’s not the lowest of the low but it doesn’t make you someone I’d want to associate with.

And fortunately, there are plenty of people in the world who are better than that. They are the ones on the fandom boards who are holding auctions to help the survivors. They are the ones donating time or money to help. They are the ones helping people get word about friends, family, and loved ones in Japan to people who live outside of it. And, should your luck turn and you find yourself in the wake of a natural disaster, they could be the ones helping you out.