Monday, 14 March 2011
PRAY FOR JAPAN
Pray to God, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, Ra, the Great Mother Goddess or just send positive thoughts if you don't believe in any higher power. Take five minutes to think about what the people of Japan are going through.
Think about the texture of your day-to-day life. The people you see every day - the pretty young woman who lives across the street walking her little dog, the grey-haired old man at the bus-stop, the children you see running to school. The streets you walk down, stepping over the wonky paving stone, taking a short-cut across a bit of grass. The houses you see, the patterns of trees or street lights. Think about the chair you sit in as you eat your breakfast, washing your dishes in your kitchen sink, the view from the window. Think about running your hand over the back of the sofa as you pass it, stopping to stroke the cat, shoving a book haphazardly onto a shelf or leaving a magazine half-read on the coffee table. Think about chosing what coat you'll wear to work that day, putting on your shoes.
Now imagine that you can never ever see, do, live any of that ever again. Imagine that the woman and her dog, and the old man, and the children, are all dead. The bus-stop isn't there anymore, or the houses or trees or street lights - it's just a jagged jumble of smashed wooden beams, tumbled cars, shattered concrete. The grass you walked across every day and the building you were walking towards are both lost forever, destroyed by the wave. The chair you sit in, your dishes, your kitchen sink, the soft material of the sofa, all disappeared, not even shards or scraps left. The view from your window is gone too, the land warped and cracked, covered in feet of mud and wreckage. The coat you chose to wear to work and the shoes - those things are the only possessions you have now. There's no way of knowing where the cat is, but in your heart of hearts you fear she's probably dead.
Everything that was familiar and safe and normal to you is gone.
And that's if you were lucky.
Much has been made of how well prepared, how 'stoic' and 'pragmatic' and 'well-trained' the Japanese are, as if that means things aren't really so bad out there. But no matter how well prepared you are for earthquakes and Tsunamis, how many times your civil defense force has drilled, how carefully you have constructed your buildings, there's just no way a disaster of this magnitude can be anything but that: disastrous.
The majority of those missing people will be discovered, dead, in the wreckage. Others will simply have disappeared into the sea. Their families and loved ones will never know what happened to them, never get to say goodbye. They won't even have a final resting place to visit, as the families who lost people in 9/11 do. Worse, some families will have been wiped out completely. There will be no one left even to mourn.
In Japan, and especially in rural areas, some families live within the same houses for generations. They have family shrines where they hang photographs of their parents, grandparents, where they honour the memory of their family. Now those houses are gone. Literally gone. The people who managed to flee in time have only the clothes on their back. They cannot go back and get a suitcase to last them until things go back to normal. Things will never go back to normal.
After the earthquake in New Zealand I donated money to Shelterbox and to the Red Cross. I donated more than was sensible, and had to watch my budget for a bit. But this time, no matter how much I donate I can't feel better. I need to do something more.
I'm involved in this auction: Authors for Japan. It's not set up yet, but we hope to raise some money. You can like our Facebook Page here. I will give you more information when I have it, and I hope you'll spread the word.
ETA: Authors for Japan is now live and you can see all the lots and get more information here. Many very, very cool items on offer.
If you or your family has any money - a few pounds, a few dollars, whatever - you can donate to these excellent charities:
The Red Cross Japan Appeal
But most of all, keep praying for Japan. Keep this country of brave, resourceful, resilient people in your thoughts and your heart. They need all the help they can get.