The media and the real disaster

We’re sitting safe in Seattle. Had a great day with friends today I haven’t seen for years. Enjoyed a day in the park and wood-fired oven pizza tonight. We’re living in comfort and have relaxed from the stress in Japan, the worrying about the day-to-day existence in a nuclear world. The stress of making decisions. The stress of feeling guilty about survival and normalcy in a country that seems changed.

We talked with friends about going back early and continuing travels in Japan with friends. We’ve debated what we should do. Continue travels? Stay here? What’s best for us? What’s best for the country of Japan? I’ve never made so many decisions in such a short amount of time, and it’s an interesting look at how we make decisions and what that means.

1. The nuclear situation: How do you assess this when you aren’t a nuclear physicist? We rely on news reports, many which find the nuclear situation stimulating and great news. Do they sensationalize? Yes. I remember one interview with a female nuclear physicist. She was saying that the situation wouldn’t cause a great health threat, yet the reporter didn’t seem to like that answer and rushed over it. Do we want to make this situation more than it is? A news commentary last night on Al Jazeera discussed how the nuclear threat has taken over the news and the disaster has been forgotten. I too have been caught up in the talk of nuclear situation. A potential threat? A real threat? Reality is: 8,000 dead, 1/2 million homeless, and up to 20,000 dead. That’s real. Yet, the nuclear situation is all the talk. Interesting.

2. What’s best for Japan? Our family, our friends staying away? Not adding to the load of food and supplies. Coming back to put more money into the economy? Do we feel right vacationing when Japan is in crisis or is it what is best? Again, it comes back to how do we help? I saw a family on the news last night. They are from Virginia, and their daughter was teaching in Japan. They haven’t heard from her, and they didn’t feel like they could go look for her in Japan. We all talked about her situation and what we would do. We said, of course we would go. Yet, without that connection there, we don’t feel like we should go help right now. Conflicting feelings.

3. How do we help? During the Kobe earthquake, a friend said that everyone rushed in to help. There was an outpouring of support from everyone in Japan after Kobe. This friend who is still in Japan isn’t rushing to help because of the nuclear situation. She, like many of us, feel helpless to help based on news reports. We’ve donated money, and we’ve left the country. Are we helping? Does that help? What else?

I got an email from a friend who has a friend who is in Sendai, near the epicenter of the quake and was ravaged by the tsunami and isn’t too far from the nuclear reactor. Here’s her account. It’s from a few days ago, but it’s worth reading. Digest all…form your own ideas.

From Sendai…

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. 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.”

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 a 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 happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one 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 are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese 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. 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,



2 thoughts on “The media and the real disaster

  1. Great to hear from you. Hope you are enjoying Seattle despite the constant worry and questioning about what to do re: stay or go. Having only left so recently, we have been avidly following all accounts over there with a somewhat thankful heart that we don’t have to make those decisions. Selfish, but true. Since the 7.1 earthquake that hit in Christchurch on Sept 4th, there have been over 4000 ‘aftershocks’ felt there, many over 5.0, including the 6.4 aftershock that has crushed the town and created New Zealand’s worst disaster in quite some time. I feel blessed to be on stable ground. Hope you three get some rest and find peace in whatever decision you make. Love Sonya and John.

  2. Wow Kristen. What decisions you have to make. I look forward to hearing what you decide. I would not want to be in your shoes.

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