The Chicago Tribune noted in “Confusion takes place of order in Japan” (Tuesday 15 March 2011, sect. 1, p. 10, tag below) “there is no central list of the missing, the tens of thousands of people still unaccounted for since Friday’s earthquake and tsunami … Canvassing neighborhoods is next to impossible: the tsunami so rearranged the landscape that… a yellow house was picked up and plopped down a mile away… to land on top of a gas station.” How anyone here can seem to suggest that there might even be a central list, going unnoticed (because there is no power perhaps?) is rather dim, since homo sapiens is the only species unnecessary to this or any ecosystem. Yet the BBC broadcast (15 March 2011) that everywhere on higher ground where there is floor space, people – relatives or not – are being accommodated. 14 March 2011 they noted “There is a resiliency here, people keep following a routine.” Simon Winchester in Newsweek (21 March 2011, p.11) says “…and it is a measure of Japanese engineering, of social cohesion, of the ready acceptance of authority and the imposition of necessary discipline that allows so many to survive these all-too-frequent displays of tectonic power.” (emphasis mine)
Imagine that: an earthquake of unprecedented proportions immediately followed by a tsunami immediately followed by the threat of a nuclear meltdown – their world has been literally turned upside down, and they still try to stay civil and orderly. Imagine this: after four days without food or potable water, never mind electricity or heat where the nights have become bitter cold, the Japanese people are still keeping their chins up.
Everyone is suffering together in Japan. It’s a sad camaraderie, but it’s all they have right now, and may be all they have for days, weeks, or months to come. If the States ever had to suffer so, I wonder if we would be able to buck up like the Japanese. I fear that except for a few neighborhoods, some church groups perhaps, and maybe the last of the small country towns, we don’t have that cohesion beyond the family. Americans are quick to question authority (Move fifty miles away from everything I know? Hundreds wouldn’t go for Katrina, why would they go for a nuclear threat they can’t see with their own eyes?) Is God the only one we don’t question at something this massive? Or do we question even God?
I fear the majority would panic, balk like mules at any discipline, however necessary, which had to be imposed, or squander whatever goodwill was offered us, as happened with the world’s outpouring of camaraderie after 9/11.
As Mike Royko famously said, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”