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I've been experiencing a sort of mounting guilt over not having even mentioned the disaster in Japan since the 11th, when it began. As I said earlier, I have no friends or family or any sort of acquaintances in Japan. But I do have a friend who's girlfriend is in Tokyo, and when I spoke to her a couple of nights back, there had been no news...and I can hardly imagine.

This afternoon, trying to put it in perspective for myself, I said to Kathryn, "Imagine that, in the space of a few minutes, all of Providence and the outlying metropolitan areas, simply ceased to exist. We were among the lucky few who reached eastern Connecticut or southern Massachusetts. But there's simply nothing to go back to. Our home is gone, and it isn't coming back. And then imagine that your parents couldn't get out of South County, and there are four failing nuclear reactors in Kingston, and, in all likelihood, at least one has begun meltdown."

But it's not my home, or my friends, or my family. And there's almost nothing I can do. I can't even give blood, because I'm a hepatitis carrier. I can't spare much of anything in the way of a monetary donation, and if I could, I'd have to worry about the aid actually reaching the victims.

It shuts you down. Hell, just trying to explain to people what it means that the quake was a 9.0, instead of a 8.9...that almost shuts me down.

I watch snow settle over tsunami-flattened landscapes. Speechless or sobbing faces amid the rubble. Steam erupting from failed reactors, steam laced with unknown levels of isotopes that will be deadly for thousands of years.

It shuts you down, the horror and shock of it.

I've been trying to sort through the news, sort wheat from chaff. Just finding sources that can get the science right is almost impossible. And what's happened, is happening, and will happen, most of it comes down to science. Science and politics.

I was almost twenty-two when the Chernobyl disaster occurred. I was almost fifteen during the Three Mile Island accident.

I try to find perspective, as if that can help anyone. I may be doing no more than trying to assuage some fucked-up sort of long-distance survivor's guilt.

It shuts me down. So, I keep watching the news, and hoping. There is nothing I can do but hope.


( 6 comments — Have your say! )
Mar. 16th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
I think it's a matter of perspective - Japan has been around for more than a few years - and frankly, it'll be around for quite a few more - one of the things that I've been working through is my anxiety over what has occurred, as in, in the broadest terms, "OhMyGod Japan got beat up by the earth, nothing will be the same!" - and that same thought carries with it all the things that Japan has offered to me, in terms of film and culture and anime and such - that sort of thing will still be around, and probably will still be - but it will be colored by this tragedy.

As to my feelings of anxiety and guilt, well, yeah, there is a certain level of desire to help, and throwing money at Japan will more than likely help - but at least as far as I'm concerned, I can do nothing. The emotion I feel because of the tragedy in Japan is because I have a cultural connection to Japan - frankly, had Haiti or India had more resonance in my world-culture-view, I would have felt worse during THEIR earthquakes and tsunamis. But that's the nature of the beast we call world culture. We can;t all love everyone all the time.

So what you feel, you are not alone. All of it, the helplessness, the loss, the thought that something somewhere in the Japan that you know has now been washed away - I feel this too. But then...

Japan prevails.
Mar. 16th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)

Japan prevails.

For now, I would say it abides.
Mar. 17th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
And what's happened, is happening, and will happen, most of it comes down to science. Science and politics.

And if there were two more catastrophically combative disciplines, I'd have difficulty working it out. Maybe Science and Religion, but the latter has been frequently equivalent to politics anyway.

The bit that gets me is that I keep seeing these things that say, "oh, it's okay, the radiation is going out to sea harmlessly".

...Because the wind never shifts, and we don't pull holy shit fuckton of fish out of that water.
Mar. 17th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
It's been an exhausting week. My youngest brother works in Tokyo. He has a small ground-floor apartment in a suburb/city just to the north of the capital, roughly 200 miles or so from Sendai, and takes the train into town every day to teach conversational English to shopkeepers and salarymen and engineers. Many of his students have worked for TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.), the company that runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant experiencing the radiation leaks. He watches the news every day, compelled to search for the faces of the TEPCO engineers he's taught. Of course, the radiation gear obscures their faces too much, but he still can't bring himself to look away from them.

Even he feels the sting of helplessness, and he's right there.

A few weeks ago, he bought a rail pass with the plan to take a week off in Sendai or Nagano. It sounds like he had originally thought to go last week, or maybe this week, to see the plum blossoms. Instead, he decided to wait for the cherry blossoms that will be blooming in a few weeks. I'm incredibly glad he postponed the trip, but I can't even tell my mother he was considering it. She's already a professional worrier as it is.
Mar. 17th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
This is going to sound awful, but I am glad you found the end of your novel before the crisis slammed into Japan.

The situation is paralyzing. It’s almost science fiction: destruction and more destruction laced with government lies and deceit.
Mar. 17th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
In the summer of 2001 I was lucky enough to be selected for an exchange student program and got to stay with a family in this tiny town called Osuka-cho (that doesn't even exist any more because it was so tiny it got broken up and all the pieces got merged into surrounding towns). It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and was one of the happiest times of my entire life. I ache for them. I want to go back and do something. Anything. But I can't, and so I watch and I hope.

( 6 comments — Have your say! )

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