Now We Help

There’s not much left to be said that hasn’t been said or thought already. Even as I write this the ground from Tohoku to Tokyo still trembles with aftershocks and the tsunami swept land is still wet with salt water. The ramifications of the largest earthquake to ever strike Japan will reverberate through this island nation for many years to come.

Events like this strip away everything. Politics, religion, class, nationality, and ethnicity, it’s all gone and we stand looking at each other’s naked humanity and suddenly things that seemed complicated are simple, things that were muddled become clear, and we take stock of the binding reality that ties us all together on this shared journey we all make.

I watched the Twin Towers fall not knowing if my cousins had made it home from work that day. I stood on the Mississippi beach after Katrina, amidst the wreckage that the onslaught of wind and water had left behind. There’s a feeling of helplessness, grief, and anger. But more than that, there’s a deep burning desire to do something, anything, to help ease the burden off the shoulders of those who have lost the most.

This is a beautiful thing about the human condition. We may fight fight fight and argue about stupid shit like trickle down market strategies, which side to butter our toast, and fashion. But as this resounding shock hits us all we stop the bickering for a moment, shut up, and listen. Listen to the cries for help, to the strangeness of this eerie silence, and to the voice deep inside us all.

People are dead. People are hurt. People need help. We can sit idly by watching Youtube videos of cars being tossed about like toys or we can roll up our sleeves and pitch in. No matter the gesture, no matter how small, believe that it will be appreciated. We’ve compiled here multiple ways that we all can help even a little. Stand up and be counted along your brothers and sisters, your flesh and blood.

Thank you.

A 4 month old baby girl was ripped from her father’s arms by the water, only to be found days later and reunited with her parents. Thank you world.

Resources:
Fukuoka Now Lifeline: a new site I’ve helped produce with resources and information for donating, volunteering, and local fundraiser events.

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After the Quake and Rising Sea

now comes the hard part

It’s now Sunday…the day after tomorrow.  I never really liked those disaster movies because they seemed like bad karma to me.  Some people were comparing this disaster to the terrorist attacks on September 11th and saying Japan is lucky the death toll at the time was only 1700. To the people trying to strike up comparisons stop…  There’s nothing to be gained.  It’s all terrible.

A girl in quarantine because of the radiation leak.

I remember 9-11 well.  I wrote an article that day that became a chain letter, it was pretty angry and a little uplifting.  I wanted to hurt the people that had hurt America and I wanted to stand up and be counted along with firemen and policemen as a human, as a hero.  I was just an angry and scared 17 year old.

Who do we get angry at now?  Nature?  What can we do?  Flip off a dolphin?  Pour motor oil down a storm drain?  Punt chinchilla?  Go buy an H3?  We’re already doing all those things, but we know that this isn’t nature getting back at us.  This is just the earth doing what comes natural.  I’m sure someone somewhere will find someone or something to be angry with.  The Westboro Church will probably blame gay soldiers and thank their “god” for dead Asian babies.  Scan the comments on Youtube and you’ll still see plenty of hate.  And that is yet another tragedy upon a time of tragedies.

A man looks at what’s left of his home in Soma-shi, Fukushima-ken.

I spent my 21st birthday on the Mississippi coast cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina.  I went there to see with my own eyes true human suffering.  But I got there too late.  It was April, months after the storm had passed.  The people were suffering, but they were spirited and encouraging.  They smiled.  The world around them consisted of toppled buildings, large shards of wood and metal, and dead sea creatures miles away from the ocean.  But they were living, they were more alive than I was most of the time I was in school, they were rebuilding, replacing, while still remembering.  I didn’t come away with what I was looking for there, but I did come away with more than I could handle.  And my Katrina experience still replays through my head from time to time as I try to wrap my head around the conflicting concept of the human condition.

Earthquake, fire, and tsunami all on top of each other.

There are cities gone.  Not just gone, but completely missing.  The only things left are the foundations laid out on the ground like they were stenciled from Google Maps.  And the occupants of those cities are largely missing.  In one city of 17,000 there are 10,000 people whose fates remain unknown.  Some seven thousand made it to safety, but the roads are now gone and the only thing we’ve seen of the city are videos of vast stretches of wreckage shot by helicopters surveying the damage.

Some places got hit by the quake, that then started fires, and then washed away by 10meters of ocean.

What do you say at a time like this?  “We’ll survive”?  Well, some will, some haven’t, some won’t.  What encouraging words can you find for people whose homes and families are gone, claimed by the earth being the earth?  “God works all things for good?”  It’s hard to see much.  There’s an outpouring of sympathy and aid that’s coming from all corners of the world.  What Japan needs right now is money.  Rescue cues and foreign volunteers are hindered by their inability to communicate efficiently, and right now Japan is just asking for financial support to pay for the relief, rescue, and repair of their home.

If you are able please help.

Google Crisis Response Resource

Or donate through your local Japanese government offices.