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Japanese Quake and Tsunami

March 14, 2011

It’s always been pretty easy to distance myself from big world tragedies. It happened Over There, and Over There is a pretty abstract idea. But this quake and tsunami in Japan has high def coverage on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs I read, and all over. 

I watched a video taken in Japan.  The man holding the camera was standing on a concrete structure that had stairs up from a small parking lot. Over the course of six minutes, he watched the first wash of seawater sweep over the street, and then watched cars start to float, and then watched as cars and whole buildings crashed and floated away. All this, with the sounds of chainlink fence squealing and breaking. He was safe, but the video ended on a zoom of people across the street, standing stranded in the utter wreckage of a building that had fallen over.

Videos on YouTube (like this one) show a view from a hill, of a village. At first it looks like the village is coming for you…it’s just buildings, sweeping along. And then you can see the water, and you see two figures far down the slope, running from the water…literally running for their lives. This is nothing, nothing at all like an action movie, where we’re pretty sure the only people to bite it are the secondary characters. These are people with lives and children and jobs and houses, just like me, and they’re running for their fucking lives.

I have to stop watching for a while.  Japan, I hope it means something that a lot our hearts are there with you.


Also, to the peoples of the world: No, this isn’t a sign of the apocolypse, or of the 2012 end of the world, or of God punishing Japan or anything else. The Earth is four and a half billion years old, and it has seen its fair share of violent natural phenomena, and living creatures have suffered and died. You show your ignorance to suddenly be surprised, and take a recurring human tragedy to be something miraculous or unexpected. Shit happens, and when it happens we are amazed and sad. But we sure as fuck shouldn’t be surprised that the world doesn’t stop for us.

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