Perspective, and Japan’s Tragedy

“A writer lives, at least, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes.”   William Sansom

My blog is mostly about pleasant things, such as books and writing and happy events. But to be a writer is not to bury oneself in writing, but to be a part of the world and to write about it.

Unless you happen to be living in a cave somewhere (in which case, I doubt you’ll even have the internet capacity to read this blog), or unless you are a bug scuttling about in the jungles somewhere, you would have read or watched or heard about the recent tragedy that has befallen a nation.

On Friday, March, 11, 2011, a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan to its core.

It was the 5th largest earthquake ever recorded to hit the world. It was so big, in fact, that it shifted the entire planet’s axis by 6.5 inches and shortened Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds.

A nation of advanced science and technology, and a country so used to earthquakes, Japan has built earthquake proof buildings that ride along with earth’s vibrations and disperse its energy. But even they were unprepared for the disasters that followed. The quake unleashed a ferocious tsunami. 23-foot high waves slammed into the coast of Sendai, and more than 50 aftershocks many of them a magnitude 6 followed.

Satellite pictures taken before and after the tsunami reveal the extent of the damage. Fires broke out in several areas, buildings collapsed and cars were tossed around like paper boats.

Now 50 men, who refuse to flee from danger, are racing against time to stop a Nuclear plant from unleashing an even greater disaster.

While these numbers are all interesting to note, the most important numbers are still rising by the hour.

The number of those who died or are unaccounted for has exceeded 15,000—more than 5,400 deaths and nearly 9,600 missing, while some 380,000 are still staying in about 2,000 shelters in eight prefectures, the National Police Agency said, based on its noon tally. Around 2,000 recovered bodies were identified Thursday in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, of which 870 were returned to their families, according to the NPA.

According to studies, the earth will be unrecognizable by 2050 due to overpopulation, and some people say this is mother nature’s way of culling the population. Other people say this is the sign of coming apocalyptic times. Still others say this is all part of the Grand Design, the Circle of Life.

Whatever this is, this is most definitely a tragedy. It is a disaster that should give us a greater perspective on the fragility of life, and the importance of making every moment count.

On July 16, 1990, a 7.8 magnitude quake struck the central part of the Philippines. I lived through that quake, and though I understood just how scary it was, I was too young to understand just how many lives were affected by it.  Now that I’m older, I realize the magnitude of these things. I have friends and loved ones who hail from Japan, and they have relatives who are undoubtedly affected by this recent tragedy in some way. This recent event has reminded me just how grateful I should be for every second I am alive. And more than anything, it has given me precious perspective.

While I fret about writing a smashing query letter, and worry about rejections from agents, and wonder about whether I shall get published or not–

380,000 people have lost the homes they have worked hard to build. Unemployment is the least of their problems as they struggle to find food and water to survive, and strive to keep their composure in the face of dead family and missing friends.

I am awed by the strength and courage of the Japanese people. The amazing thing is that the stories that come out of this terrifying calamity, are stories of loyalty, of bravery  and of composure.

We haven’t heard stories of looting or stealing, or killing or violence despite the hardships they face. Instead, we hear stories of compassion and kindness, of impeccable politeness, and the indestructible calm of the Japanese spirit.

Perspective is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. We must realize that it is not enough that we watch fascinating and terrifying videos of the earthquake or the tsunami. It is not enough for us to sit and watch tragic events unfold. While it is good to gain perspective and be grateful that we have the good fortune of being alive and well, it is not enough.

Thousands remain homeless and in need of food, clothing and warmth.

They huddle in the dark in refugee camps and houses, gathering around a single candle, waiting for news of survival or rescue, and taking comfort in each other.

We must reach out and help.

We must find a way to aid them in our own little way. Whether it’s going to restaurants that donate a part of their profits to the relief efforts in Japan, or clicking on the links below and giving a dollar or five, every little thing counts.

American Red Cross

Global Giving

Mercy Corps

Network for Good

Salvation Army

World Vision

*The Huffington Post also lists other legitimate venues for sending your donations.

We cannot bring back the dead, but we can help the living.

“You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” Ray Bradbury

It is my hope that this blog post, no matter how simple, can at least tug at one person’s heart.  If I can convince at least one soul to donate a little bit of her time and money to the Japanese relief efforts, then I’ll know that my love for writing can indeed remake a world. More than that, I will have done my share in reaching out to a nation in need.


If you know of any other legitimate organizations accepting donations, please feel free to share links in the comments section below.

* If you want to read news updates and watch videos about the disaster, here  are a few links:

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33 Responses to “Perspective, and Japan’s Tragedy”

  1. Karen Strong says:

    When you see tragedies like this, it can really put your life in perspective. My heart goes out to all of the people affected by this natural disasters.

    Thanks for posting the links! :)

  2. What horrific, terrifying images. So much tragedy. So devastating. That last image though feels really hopeful to me. Survivors coming together in the light. It doesn’t seem like a lot, and in a way it’s not, but it’s hope and that’s huge. I’m also glad to see so many charities coming forward to lend a hand.

  3. In deed, the discipline of the Japanese culture is inspirational, their collective calm amidst a triple storm is exceptional, but there are lessons to be learned from these tragedy, one of humility and compassion, and the need balance our ecological system so mother nature will be gentler to us. It may be so parochial a thought, but for all our intelligence, we really are no match with the power of nature. We therefore, must share Japan’s worries, and strive to help them quell the problem of nuclear disaster for it will change the world as we know it.. its impact will affect generations yet to come…

  4. We should Donate whatever we could to help this disater torn nation, and lend our unequivocal support to help raise their spirits and confidence , that we as “ONE BIG PLANET” can still save our environment from the wrath of nature..

  5. Tess Yatco says:

    You are so profundly correct, Nustch.. but if I may add, we should not “tempt nature”, because when we do this, we’ll never know if the responses will be favorbale- In short we should nurture nature not abuse it… I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that has engulfed Japan and its people, but I hope the rest of the world will continue to lend a hand and learn form their experience.. I will continue praying for their deliverance from this great loss.

  6. Su says:

    Wow, very well said. Japan has a long road ahead of them, and everything we can do to help them is needed.

  7. Cai says:

    hi nuts. writing about something so tragic can sometimes prove to be one of the best articles we can write. i guess it balances us in a way because we are not alone and writing is a means for us to reach out. this is a really great article…will borrow a quote from Ray Bradbury :) hugs!

  8. It is so terrible. I have donated a copy of my book to Write Hope, A blog started by Rachael Harrie at Rach Writes
    I will look at our bills and figure out how much I can donate tomorrow when we get paid.

    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30

  9. Talei Loto says:

    I hope Japan will be able to get back up on its feet, it will take time but I know they will do it. I’ve stopped watching the news now, its too hard for me to stomach. We have to do what we can to help right now. Thanks for coming by my blog too. 😉 Nice to meet you!

  10. It’s so sad. Every time I see the footage I want to cry. The worse might not be over.

  11. Bish says:

    Giving what pennies I can.

    Earth is a living planet. When she yawns and stretches, sneezes or coughs, we humans are often left to deal with the aftermath. That said, did she not have a molten core and movable plates, the earth would be a dead planet and we wouldn’t be here at all.

  12. So sad…I just wanted to mention to be sure you send Roland the twitter link for the contest. You mentioned one of the books.

  13. Nicole says:

    Every dollar counts. I am utterly humbled by how well Japan is dealing with the Quake. It is unfortunate that the worst really is to come but I believe they will work through it, I’m very grateful that the Northern Hemisphere is turning into Spring/Summer. Also a tiny note, I’d read it’s actually 180 people still at the plant and they work in the dangerous area in teams of 50 to try and limit everyone’s exposure. The tweet’s from one of the men’s daughter’s just make me cry. I’m off to donate what I can as well as a copy of my book to Rach’s site.

  14. Alana says:

    Thank you for posting this Nutschell. You pulled together some very strong images and numbers, but I especially appreciate the personal response. If I see or hear of any more legitimate organizations, I will certainly post them here.

  15. Seeing photos of flooding and fire at the same time is surreal. Thank you for such a touching post and for the donation links. It’s impressive that the Japanese haven’t been looting or price gouging. Shows that it doesn’t have to be human nature to take advantage of tragedy.

  16. I’ve given and I’m going to give more. The footage continues to fill me with sadness.

    I’m hopeful that the affected parts of the country will be rebuilt.

  17. Lynn Kelley says:

    Thanks for writing this post, Nutschell and for adding the photos. It’s heartwrenching to see what the Japanese people are suffering through. And their calm and dignity through all of this is amazing. I hope aid, food, and water make it to those in need ASAP. And I hope they get those nuclear reactors under control so the Japanese don’t have that hanging over their heads. God be with them.

  18. Carla says:

    My heart also goes out to them. I really think their peaceful way of dealing with disaster is a tribute to the Japanese people. It seem that many other places plagued with tragedy have also had to deal with looting and violence…I have been so impressed that we just haven’t seen that in Japan.

  19. What a moving post, putting a tragedy like this in perspective. Here’s another way folks can help: Writers for the Red Cross-


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