For a while there I thought it was me. I’m watching poignant photos, video and commentary of indescribable despair and destruction from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and I started drawing comparisons between this catastrophic disaster and similar ones in Christchurch, New Zealand, Chile, Haiti, and Indonesia. The comparisons I’m making are not in loss of life or property, but rather the reaction, or lack of, being displayed in terms of help and aid for the Japanese people suffering through this horror, and the people of Christchurch who lost practically their entire city.
I just finished reading an online article, Donations to Japan start at a slow pace, which confirmed my earlier feelings. When the disasters in Haiti and Indonesia struck, within 24 hours, I remember being inundated with appeals for help from organizations all over the US and the world. Hollywood actors were taping commercials, rock concerts were being held, online banner ads begging for help, every humanitarian agency and organization sending food, aid and supplies.
And now we have the unfathomable disaster in Japan, with 500,000 people, many of them elderly, suffering through freezing temperatures, potential radiation poisoning, lack of medicine, food, clothing, and first now, within the last 24 hours, am I beginning to see a more concentrated effort by organizations and private foundations to help these people. Hollywood has been remarkably quiet. Lady Gaga has made an effort to help, and now the Black Eyed Peas, but where’s Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, etc.
I’ve been asking myself since when should a life be measured and help offered, based upon how wealthy a nation is, or the perceived living standards of its people. I look at these photos and think how many of these people have lived through the aftermath of WWII, when their country was in ruins. Now, at their age, when their only wants may be to simply to live among family and friends, with a roof over their heads and food on the table, their lives have irrevocably been turned upside down.
My father liked to quote the ubiquitous saying, “until you walk in my shoes…”. People who have suffered catastrophic loss, or illness, know what it is to have family or total strangers reach out to them with help and comfort when they are numb from shock and don’t know where to turn. Whether someone lives in Santa Barbara, middle class suburbia, or a homeless shelter; whether it’s Haiti, Indonesia, New Zealand or Japan, a life matters, loss matters, grief matters, and it’s not only humans who suffer, as witnessed by this touching video.
The devastation in Japan, even by our Katrina standards, is horrific and continually mounting. “There but for the grace of God” and “You can’t go home again” take on a whole new meaning. Please help by clicking here which will take you to a page listing various organizations that are mounting full-scale efforts to help the victims of this devastating quake and tsunami.