Never did I realize the art piece I created in watercolor in 1975, in honor of Hokusai, would come to mind when news of Japan’s tsunami poured in. In my piece, I replaced Mount Fuji with a small city in silhouette, and the tone of the piece was of trembling doom, immersed in crimson sunset, awaiting the inevitable crash.
On March 11, 2011, the east coast of Honshu became the epicentre of an underwater earthquake, transmitting the force westwards. The city of Sendai looked a major washout after a 8.9 richter hit, the biggest in 140 years globally, and 1,200 years in the history of Japan. This adjustment of the earth’s tectonic plates took just 5mins. Reported dead and missing total 1,014 but I am of the opinion the numbers are greater than that. My guess is around 3 times more, once the body count begins.
New Zealand’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on February 21st 2011 with a death toll of 166. In contrast, Indonesia’s 9.3 magnitude 8 minute quake in 2004 claimed more than 183,000 lives, mostly in Bandah Aceh. Over the next 48 hours, 51 aftershocks rocked Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, and Maldives with major repercussions on Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. Total dead exceeded 283,000.
In September of 2009, more than 1,000 people lost their lives in Padang from a 7.6 richter quake, followed by a 6.8 a day later.
On 26 December 2004, my tears flowed freely, as I watched the death toll rise from 1,500 to 6,000. I begged God to offer this humble simpleton a glimpse of His reason or motivation for this unnatural sacrifice of innocents. With heart and mind, I prayed and fasted 2 days looking for a sign or whisper. “Please, dear Lord, please share a small piece of your infinite wisdom with this undeserving speck of dust. A tiny clue will enlighten me, so I can try to understand why all this pain, suffering and despair is happening…”. I heard 3 words: compassion. sacrifice. forgiveness. Nothing more. Only the drone of TV and radio broadcasts updating body counts in the affected countries. Interrupted by more tears. More questions. Deep grief. An empty sadness.
Who had friends on holiday? Anyone knew who had returned? Why are there so many women and children on the death list? Is this the start? Or the end? Perhaps the start of the end? Is 2012 a possibility?
I have come to accept that humanity can only be measured in those 3 words I had heard, from a deep voice planted in my head, while I was cradling my 2 year old son in my lap as he fell asleep. Each community slackens in virtue when the economy prospers, and people forget God, and why we should aspire to a higher being. We get complacent and focus on amassing wealth and material gain. We ignore the pleas of the innocent. We take advantage of others for our own gain, psychologically or materially. We forget generosity, neighbourliness, consideration, and place ourselves ahead of more deserving others. We hide our hearts behind masks of corporate social responsibility by contributing cash, not our efforts, nor our precious time. We break our promises.
When greed is left unchecked, and festers within society masked by rules and regulations, many are tempted to utilize their brilliance for self gain. When regulations are enforced, it is often to someone’s convenience, or to a society’s gain. Seldom are statutes erected without repercussions to others left in the gaps. While its original intent may have been to “protect the innocent”, the sword cuts both ways.
Every time that occurs, science dictates that action equals reaction, and the theory of relativity kicks in. Often, collateral damage occurs, but argued as affecting the minority, easily resolved by special acts or waivers…which often are too difficult to support, or which consumes too many resources to be deemed practical. Too little, too late.
Some surmise that the tsunami of depression crashed onto the American economy in 2009, shifting the power to the East. Other theories decry the inactive citizenry, foolish and accepting of a non-reality, a pseudo-depiction of the American Way, careless and carefree, oblivious to voices calling for conservation, values, an honest audit of freedom not defined by consumption and spending.
” Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t “
Many have accused the Japanese economy of falling into disrepair, into a despair of the people, one affecting the traditional values of its conservative Zen-based societal roots. Perhaps, that demise can be lifted by exposure to events which evoke compassion, to actionable sacrifice from the heart, and the ultimate forgiveness of a generation, and with that, a return to traditional values.
” Every one of us gets what we are born with. It is what we do with that, who we become, who we touch, what we contribute every single day, that gives meaning to our lives “
Scientists have a logical explanation for all of this. Every few hundred years, the earth goes through corrective adjustments by way of its tectonic plates. This century will see minor corrections, a shadow of its former agenda, when countries were formed and weather changes decommissioned entire species. This time round, plate shifts and weather changes are considered mild. It is not global warming.
Perhaps, it is just our perception that the value of life has gone up.
What are you doing every minute with your life to make the world more valuable by your presence?
Almost 2 months have passed, and the death toll continues to escalate. TEPCO’s Fukushima debacle has now exceeded Chernobyl’s disaster benchmark to become the worst nuclear disaster todate. No longer just the body count from an earthquake, mankind has to now pay the price of playing with nuclear power, and Japan is not alone.
Highly contaminated seawater loaded with Cesium 137 and Iodine 131 are being absorbed by sea life as it pours out of northern Japan. Geographically wind-driven, tide and ocean currents like the North Atlantic Drift head toward California and Alaska. Fish and lobsters migrate large distances without stopping. Krill and shellfish are carried by underwater currents. They are, in turn, eaten by other inhabitants of the ocean, and re-transported.
Seafood, once considered the safer alternative to genetically modified cops and farm bred animals, are now on the non-edible list. “What’s In My Fish” is a movement championed by my friend Gordon, since 2009, where he begs us to question what we are consuming from the sea, and whilst I believe it was intended as a cause toward saving aquatic environments as consumers demand more from the ocean, it highlights how wasteful commercialism really is.
Radioactive substances do not “go away”. They were picked for their long shelf lives of 30 years or more. Seeping to the water table, well water, and even into plants and crops, particles are also carried by insects which fly and swarm at the whim of the wind. As pollinators, these insects carry particles over long distances termed vectors, and deposit them on plants, edible or ornamental.
Even when they die, these radioactive particles continue to emit radiation, which when consumed, alters the molecular makeup of your cells, causing cancer. This mutation will genetically carry forward to your offspring, as well as expose them to your affected presence. While Iodine 131 may breakdown in 8-16 days, Cesium will take centuries to become harmless…and only if we can account for where all of it has gone to.
I guess we shall have to be much more aware of our environment now, and watch what we eat!