An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Learning Grace of being Human from the Japanese

Akaiwa.jpgDespite what the Japanese have achieved through sheer hard work after a complete devastation in World War II, has been unprecedented in mankind’s history. Specifically, when one sees how little they had to get there. What they achieved in terms of economic and industrial development is one thing, the other, more important one is the incredible ability to forgive. Any lesser people, given decidedly the worst devastation every witness in any war, would have never let the perpetrators go away so easily, as Japan let US off. Just as a comparison, Fidel Castro really hasn’t hurt US a great deal, except hurt its ego, and see how Cuba and Cubans are dealt with even today.

The recent earthquake, tsunami and earthquake made me hopeful about mankind’s future, because I could see some beauty, grace and humanity left in some corner of the world, despite untold disaster. It also showed again that Japanese have something that needs to be acknowledged and aspired for. Chest beating at one’s superiority in arms, power, sports, economy is one thing, but its quite another to take a fall gracefully. One of the columnists, Suchismita, sent over a chain email, which brought out these 10 points about Japan, which I couldn’t agree with more.

  1. The Calm: Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
  2. The Dignity: Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
  3. The Ability: The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
  4. The Grace: People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
  5. The Order: No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
  6. The Sacrifice: Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
  7. The Tenderness: Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
  8. The Training: The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
  9. The Media: They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
  10. The Conscience: When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly
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Here is one example of the strength and the valor of ordinary people against immense odds. Hideaki Akaiwa, 43 instantly went for the high ground when the tsunami struck. Once he was safe, he called his wife, but wouldn’t answer. So, he got some scuba gear, and dived into the water with all the rubble. Found her hundreds of yards later as she was fighting tsunami’s 10 foot current. Got her to safety. Now she started worrying about his mother, who was in a different neighborhood. Kept looking for her and finally found her on the 2nd floor of a neighbor’s house trapped with water all around and hungry for days.

The guy now goes around the place with a backpack, a flashlight, a Swiss Army knife, and some water – in search of others who could be rescued.

Meanwhile, there are enough lunatics like Ann Coulter who have no shame in making an industry out of finding other’s misery to be an exercise in punditry, laced with lunacy of course. In a recent discussion with Bill O’Reilly she said:

“With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.”

“This is not about becoming super human This is about realizing being human is super”. – Sadhguru.

Bill O’Reilly tried to make a joke out of it and pointed to the lady to be a bit responsible, but she was high on her own brand of radiation and stuck to her guns. When someone looks a fool even in front of Bill O’Reilly, then that creature is truly a special breed amongst lunatics.

Around the world, there have been enough instances of how the religious right have linked the disaster to the way God (the Self-seeking bastard that he is) is at his worst because we humans aren’t caring for him enough!

While the world over, the spectators from other countries struggle to be humans; the Japanese show how easy it is to seem super human, by just being human in the first place!

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