AN AMAZING SPIRIT OF CARING AND SHARING
I thank my good friend, Mini Krishnan of Chennai, for sending the following testimony from Japan. I do not know the source of this letter, but it is a testimony of human discipline, dignity, endurance, courage and hope. I salute the person who wrote this letter and the Japanese nation at this most critical time of their destiny. It is indeed a reflection of the nobility of human action in the face of utter disaster.
A letter from Japan by an Unknown writer:
“Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, and share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."
Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often. We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses are in mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happenings are at the same time. Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one is out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains in Sendai are solid and with the crisp air, we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
And the local people themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear; resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. We are blessed again.
Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard and yet magnificent.
Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
With Love in return, to you all,”
People in Japan suffered enormously due to tsunamis, earthquakes and nuclear meltdown. It was a most unusual accidental coincidence of natural and man-made disaster. This incidence questions our unshakable faith in science and technology and makes us painfully aware that technologies that enable man to create new lifestyles carry the potential for self destruction. The powerful cars we drive and aircrafts in which we fly all have potential self destroying possibilities. The possibility is also present in every cell in our body through a process know as apoptosis or programmed cell death. Therefore, we are programmed to die one day and not to live for ever. The question is what we can do with the life we have for the glory of God.
A long, long time ago there was a very wise king in India. He had four amazingly talented sons. These princes were given all the freedom and education to grow up and take up any trade or profession they wanted. One fine morning these four prices got together and said, “let us learn all there are in the world to have a very special creative strength to make any thing that we fancy” They decided to meet after seven years at a particular place and time. The brothers went to different parts of the world and learnt many scientific skills and then came together at the appointed time and appointed place. Then they asked one another what they have learnt to become creative. The eldest prince said, “from the bone of any creature I can make the most appropriate and most genetically compatible flesh and tissues to go around it.” The second prince said, “I can grow skin and hair around such a structure.” The third prince said, “I know how to grow limbs head all other structures to complete the physical structure of that creature from where the original bone came from.” The fourth prince said, “If three of you can do all that then I can give life to that creature and make it a living being with all faculties.”
There upon the four princes decided put into practise what they mastered over the long seven years. They went into a forest and picked up a thigh bone without knowing its origin. They got to work on the bone, by putting flesh, skin, hair limbs and head and the fourth prince gave life to this creature. Then only they realised the creature that they created was a ferocious lion. The lion killed all four princes and disappeared into the forest.
This story tells us structures and institutions that we create by our own efforts and skills have the potential for self destruction. Industrial complexes we erect can produce in one hour what our ancestors laboured for years. One high rising building can accommodate a whole village or the section of a small town. But this kind of development also creates ecological imbalance, pollution and climate change. Therefore, we have acquired not only the power to create amazing things we also created the potential for destroying the earth and all it contains. It is time for us to have the humility not to build our own towers of Babel. We need the humility to think that we own nothing, but we are custodians of everything. This custodial responsibility is necessary to care for this wounded and broken world.
It is important not to miss the lesson from Japan about the quality of human spirit to elevate oneself in any situation. This is a God-given discipline and attitude as we see from the letter from Sendai. Whatever the outcome of the recent tsunami, earthquake and associated nuclear reactor explosions at northern Japan, the anonymous group of nuclear scientists and engineers voluntarily working at the sites, known as ‘Fukushima-50,’ will be remembered for ever for their altruism, courage and unconditional love for the victims of this disaster. These people are trying to provide safety nets and shields from the meltdown of nuclear reactor and power installations in Japan without a care or concern for their own safety; it is an outstanding example of unconditional love that was expressed on the cross. I think this group people certainly deserve to be nominated for this year’s Nobel peace prize. Whenever our world is challenged by such natural or man-made disasters we see amazing individuals emerging out the shattered structures of society to provide hope, protect life and rebuild communities. We saw such efforts in San Jose mine disaster as well. It is God who is empowering such people to put other people and their needs first. “Man’s abiding happiness is not in getting anything but in giving himself up to what is greater than himself, to ideas which are larger than his individual life, the idea of his country, of humanity, of God” (Tagore).
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