You know, I wasn’t entirely sure I would post about Japan’s earthquake. Where does one even begin? Are there even words for this? The pictures are breath-taking (and not in a beautiful way, but in a humbling, soul-chilling kind of way). As the day moves on here at the office, the stories continue to pass around; nuclear plants, giant ocean whirlpools, tsunamis, full-earthquake-sized-aftershocks. So maybe I won’t say much, but instead, encourage you to pause with me; to engage, to help where we can.
Most recently, I’ve been reading a book called The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten. Gene is a two times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Washington Post; Fiddler is a collection of articles that he has written; some of his best, I am sure of it (this book is well worth the read). Each story has me captured from the opening line to the ending. Gene manages to make the reader feel and think about issues, and people, they might not normally feel for or think about. He is intelligent, witty and thoughtful, and his delivery is approachable and poignant. The article I started yesterday was called “None of the Above”, where Gene speaks frankly and insightfully about the large population of Americans that do not vote (near the 50% mark, if not higher). He discusses the idea that, contrary to popular expression, each vote doesn’t really count on its own. Not mathematically, at least. But the moral obligation of each voter to actually vote, well, that’s something else entirely. It is the moral obligation that makes each vote, and voter, count. (read the full article here)
When it comes to things like earthquakes and epidemics and natural disasters (which happen with a significant degree of frequency), and how we respond in the aftermath, a different sort of argument could be made. The response on our part plays both parts equally: a mathematical and moral role. To a great degree, how I, and you and you and you, choose to respond will impact relief efforts, hearts, and lives.
I’ve heard it said by more than one person today that this earthquake, for some reason, hits closer to home. We do live on an “earthquake hotspot” here in Vancouver, after all, and have been hearing cautionary tales about “The Big One” for years. We are no less susceptible than the rest of the world. So maybe that’s what I’m thinking about today, as I sort through the mess of stories and heartbreaks flooding over to us from Japan – I’m thinking about the fragility of life, and the resiliency of the human spirit, and of course, my moral obligation. I am a human and I am on one of the richest parts of the planet. How do I respond?
Google Crisis Response for Japan - this will be a helpful tool for those of you that know people in Japan, or are travelling in and around the area.
Red Cross (Canada) online donation center - obviously, one of the only ways many of us can respond is financially. Make sure you choose a reputable organization before donating funds.