The earthquake that hit Japan recently followed by waves of tsunami has left people of the world pondering over the resilience, perseverance, determination and faith of the Japanese people. There were no scenes of lamenting and chest beating seen anywhere after the disaster hit. Although people had tears for the near and dear ones that perished, but no one lamented and cursed God for the disaster. That is something that makes all of us wonder whether the Japanese really believe in God more than us?
Look at us (I mean everyone around the globe) when a tragedy hits us. We lament, beat our chests and cry out loud to ask God why us!! But here they stood, strong, unnerved and determined to take stock of the situation rather than making hue and cry. Unlike many advanced countries of the world who champion themselves as model for other, these poor fragile people showed strength of character and moral fiber. There were no reported incidents of looting, rather people joined hands together to help carry their salvaged luggage to safer places. I remember a TV footage long ago when there was one hour electricity failure in New York, and people of this “great city” looted stores and raped women. But in total contrast, there prevailed a unique calm and order, as if everyone knew what to do when a disaster hits.
There have been many reported incidents when super store owners, asked people to take everything for free. And when the stores ran out of supplies, people who had surplus brought back to stores to share with those still in need.
Then there is a tale of a man who took out his boat against the tsunami, braved the formidable walls of roaring water and rode over many tsunami waves. He knew the danger that was coming, the risks he was taking, but he put his own in danger in the hope that by saving his boat, he will be able to come back and help his fellow citizens much more than if he had simply ran like other to higher ground to save his own soul. After reaching the clear seas, he then came back and since then he has been transporting people free of cost. Some who have money give him a paltry sum for his fuel costs.
Despite the damage and the loss, people showed dignity and calm. The stayed in lines to get water and other aid goods. No one was seen rushing, jumping over the relief trucks and snatching relief goods. At no place there was chaos or rushing over. Rather some people gave way for other to get aid first than them. People showed grace and got only what they needed and did not insist on more than their needs.
In many cases, when electricity went out in stores, people put the things back on the racks and left the stores and waited outside, rather than taking things away under the blanket of darkness and slipping away without paying.
And above all, there was no media hype, no exaggerated reports or no labeling by any media of “having reached the area first” or “reporting before others.” The media behaved responsibly and it felt as if they were too helping the government in their efforts to reach out to people and help, rather than scoring point.
This reminded me of many incidents of breaking lines, taking things forcibly and denying the same for other affected people standing by, when disaster hit our country not very long ago. People stopped aid trucks from going further to affected people further ahead and took away everything the trucks carried. This denied people further away of any relief goods for days. This also reminds me of the role of media which lamented more than people and only reported negatively to undermine the efforts of the government and aid workers. The lady news reporters roamed in the area wearing creased colourful clothes with visible make up as if reporting a fashion show. And the VIPs visited, though days after, with clean creased clothes and distributing money mere show offs rather than showing any semblance of real grief and pain.
And before I forget, did anyone see buildings falling after almost 9 magnitude earthquake and many aftershocks there after? Perhaps none as the earthquake proof buildings really stood ground and spoke volumes of the ability and the honesty of the people who built these multistoried buildings. And that is the reason that the death toll was very minimal and whatever happened was because of tsunami and not because of falling buildings and debris. We vividly remember crumbling of our infrastructure, rather a total devastation of buildings in our earthquake of 2005. Even the posh and expensive Margalla Towers crumbled.
All this really makes me wonder and ponder whether we really believe in God more than Japanese? I am afraid it seems the other way round.