Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Diversity of Unimaginables


The tragedies unfolding in Japan. They are unimaginable. Look at it, above, the serene garden, and below, this little wisp floating in the ocean.  How is it possible that a place could absorb or contain so much damage and pain?

I know, it's complicated. I heard a Chinese man on the radio tonight discussing aid to Japan: "From the humanitarian perspective, I support it," he says. "But from a historical perspective, I do not. People my age believe Japan ought to be wiped out. During the Japanese occupation, they killed so many Chinese people."
     Still, as with other huge events in places far away, we observers become students at a high-level seminar. For example, from the NPR website, this same story about Chinese aid:
On the streets, instinctive anti-Japanese nationalism is not unusual. Shockingly, online posts have been written celebrating Japan's misfortune. But at the same time, a new respect is emerging for Japanese virtues. People have seen pictures of orderly queues of evacuees, they've noticed the care and courtesy with which Japanese survivors have treated each other, and they've commented upon the lack of price-gouging in the Japanese quake zone. This stands in stark contrast to what happened after China's earthquake, prompting some introspection.
This business of the old grudge, I can somewhat imagine and relate to. I have often wondered how people or countries forgive each other for the devastation and brutalities associated with war. I like to think (in the context of China's contemplation of Japan) that the deep grudge could be tempered by new images, new information.
     And then, as a different variety of unimaginable, there was the story I heard last night, about a young woman in Tokyo who spent $800 and 18 hours on trains, in cabs, and on foot, traveling to Sendai to find her parents and grandparents because she couldn't reach them by phone.
The family dog welcomes her to a home largely undamaged by the earthquake, and a mother stunned by her arrival.
There's no hugging or kissing, just gasps of surprise and shock as she stands and bows to her parents. They bow, too — the emotion of the moment palpable, even though nobody touches anyone.
 That not-touching encounter is almost as unimaginable/foreign to me as the disaster/destruction itself. 

3 comments:

rasirds@cox.net said...

Stating "no comment' says as much as I can.

Jim Poznak said...

We read about these disasters, but you are right, living through any of them is unimaginable, even inconceivable.

Susan Messer said...

Thanks to both of you.