What possibly can be more impressive than the cataclysm itself? Seen from above, this unleashed, tsunami monster discards all man's creations- factories, houses, ships, trains, lorries, aircraft, cars, etc., as though they were mere toys. They are brutally dislodged, dispatched, mixed up together in violent, diabolical, tidal mires and whirl-pools. They are engulfed, scattered at random or disdainfully drained like sewage into huge quake chasms. Unprecedented force and destruction. A quake of 9 on the Richter scale! And whilst all this hell breaks loose relentlessly gaining, pushing its extraordinary load before it from one side of this incredible scene, people are driving their cars on roads apparently still intact on the other side.
Is this a brutal reminder to the world that God or Nature is still in charge?
What can be more impressive than this?
I have a Japanese friend who lives in Tokyo. I've known him for many years. He is a good, kind person. He was able to reply to my email immediately to reassure me. He told me simply- 'the aftershock is still occurring. More than 1000 people died. My family and I are quite safe'..
We see these apocalyptic images of a catastrophe that dwarfs every other international concern. There are fears that more than ten thousand people could have perished in the Miyagi Prefecture. The death toll can only rise. We know that other nuclear explosions are still possible at Fukushima Daiichi and we know that the effects of such additional disasters can only be negative.
In spite of this unprecedented catastrophe which certainly isn't over yet, one is reassured by the Japanese. There is no apparent panic. For them it's not the first time, even if it's certainly the worst tsunami in history, and the worst crisis for sixty-six years. The Japanese assume this with astonishing calm. The many who have lost loved ones are naturally extremely sad, and even this is expressed discretely. Yet others are still able to smile as they describe their personal experiences.
It seems to me that this quality of character, this admirable, human dignity in the midst of the ruins left in the wake of the most violent tsunami in recorded history, is far more impressive than the cataclysm itself.
The Japanese people deserve all the help the world can give them.
Text by Mirino. Image- AP, with grateful thanks. March, 2011