If there’s one thing that continues to astonish, it’s the resilience and connectedness of the Japanese people in the face of the worst that can be imagined on the material 3-D plane. In photos of them standing in line, for example, waiting for water, or gas. I see no pushing, no trying to get ahead of the next guy. Somehow, they naturally realize that they are part of something larger. Does this have to do with living so close together, on an island? I think about the vast land mass that houses our adventurous, expansive culture, so young and brash and insensitive to those we hurt, or kill, including the Japanese, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That we chose to also nuke Nagasaki only a few days after demonstrating unimaginable devastation from our hydrogen bomb on Hiroshima — that’s what numbs my heart into a lead casing.
Here’s an excerpt from a letter from Sendai that echoes and reinforces my astonishment.
“Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, 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, 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.’”