It seems like merely days ago the public dialogue bounced between the skyrocketing price of groceries and gasoline; the rising up of working people in the mid east — as well as our own mid west; and the rambings of a seemingly unstable, implausibly garrulous celebrity whose veins course with “dragon’s blood.” It seems like just days ago because, well, it was.
Time zips by without delay and such topics are soooooo last week. In point of fact, nothing has changed except our attention. One still needs to refinance his house to purchase groceries (if he can find a willing bank); riots and unrest in northern Africa continue; and that particular celebrity — well, he just won’t shut up, will he?
Yet, we have been radically refocused.
My wife woke me last Friday with alarm in her voice, “There was a huge quake in Japan. It’s triggered a tsunami warning here.” As it turned out, we were spared; however, when I flipped on the television to find out what evacuation might entail, I — probably like you — witnessed the horrific, gut-wrenching images of a “first-world country” laid low by a one-two gut punch of earthquake and its resultant tsunami; the strength of which not only literally moved Japan, but shifted the Earth’s axis, and even altered time.
How can mere mortals come to terms with the concept of such seemingly unlimited power? It is indeed reminder that we reside on Mother Earth at her pleasure; a privilege she may revoke at any time with nothing greater than a flick of her authority. It is humbling to realize how inconsequential are we in relationship to the planet on which we exist.
Do not misconstrue my statement as, “We are insignificant.” Quite the contrary, we are awesome creatures with immeasurable capabilities, blessed with brilliance, and gifted with limitless grace and goodness. It’s just that — once in a while — we get lost. We forget. We bind ourselves into knots about events and activities that mean — on the grand scale of things — virtually nothing.
I whine about being delayed by excess red lights when I’m rushing to an appointment. I complain to the clerk about the cost of fruit, as if she does not have to deal with it for her own household budget. I boil with rage when I reflect on the contractor who never correctly fixed our leaky roof. Each of us has our “ain’t-life-awful list,” which we are so quick to pull out and share whenever needed (and usually when not).
To put it in perspective, my car is a “beater,” but it’s also not crushed under the rubble of what was my house. I am able to go where I want, when I want, while driving on (mostly-intact) roads. Food might be pricey, but I am not in an endless queue hoping for a relief truck, donned in a mask as a thin barrier against disease and an expanding nuclear disaster. Yes, my roof really leaks; no, it shouldn’t. It’s damn frustrating. But, I am not sleeping in a tent of bed sheets in freezing temperatures neither. Until the leak is repaired, all I need to is place a bucket on the floor and sidestep the wet place.
As they say, “There but for the Grace of God goes any of us.” We survive. We are mostly comfortable. For those, be grateful. Yet, with gratitude comes responsibility. We must provide what we can to those who are enduring so much. It could be us, and we would hope for no less.
Note: For a list of organizations helping Japan, you can follow this link.