If death comes like a thief in the night, in Japan, it came in the form of an 8.9-magnitude quake at 2:46 P.M. on March 11, 2011 followed by a powerful tsunami. Big waves engulfed properties, wiping out part of what we know as a country with the third largest economy. As murky waters head back to sea, a few buildings stand stall, damaged but intact just the same. Zooming out to get a bigger picture of the catastrophe, shipping vessels turned upside down were on land, cars on rooftops, airplanes on a runway of debris, and thousands of people left homeless, missing, and dead. This is Japan, the country with the third largest economy. And now a testament that technology is subordinate to nature.
As days unfolded, images of a disaster moved even the most unsympathetic person. It somehow ignited fear knowing our vulnerability to a similar scenario – a worst case scenario that is. Amidst the disaster were stories of survival and reconciliation. Then we were moved again, relieved in every breaking news of life retrieved, of families reunited. Despite the absence of any Japanese blood or relation to the victims, we prayed for their safety as we prayed for our own.
Japan continues to experience aftershocks powerful enough to tear down our commercial business districts. Tsunami alerts ring every now and then. Nuclear power plants explode and emit radiation, bothering the entire global community. Search and retrieval operations are carried on. They are on the news. Every minute. Everywhere. Since March 11, 2011.
But other than the tragedy, more newsworthy is the remarkable discipline and composure the Japanese possess in the face of uncertainty. They wept, all right. But their cries were characterized by both sorrow and strength.
There was not one report of looting or chaos in supermarkets and gasoline stations despite the limited supply of all things that would mean survival. They were calm, a stark contrast to the big waves that hit them.
This is Japan, the country with the third largest economy. This is Japan. An 8.9-magnitude quake may have rocked their country but just wasn’t strong enough to shake and break their spirits.
You are the Land of the Rising Sun. Know that you will rise from this.
The piece was originally titled, “J.A.P.A.N – Just Always Pray at Night” — Editor.