First of all, this post is not about a song by the 1980's one hit wonder group The Vapors which loosely references masturbation in prison. Yes that really is what the song is about. I know this to be true because one Sunday I watched "Behind The Music" on VH1 and the individual who wrote the song confirmed this... anyway moving on.
Okay I know that some of my friends have accused me of being perhaps a bit callous in some of my remarks concerning the recent Japanese earthquakes and related tsunamis. And yes I will be the first one to stipulate that I may not know how to properly spell tsunami. I could look it up but that would take too much time and even if I am off by a couple of letters you all know the waves of which I speak.
A good friend of mine suggested that my use of poor Godzilla as a scapegoat might have been in poor taste. I'm not sure whether I agree with her or not. I mean it may not be politically correct but when I weigh it against all of the other things that myself or others could have said I think that it is pretty harmless. I made no racial or ethnic slurs and I didn't even go so far as to interchange all of the "L's" and "R's" as I might have done in my more immature days. So I am going to maintain my contention that while it might have been juvenile it was not mean spirited or overtly offensive or harmful.
When I think about the situation in a more serious manner, as those of us who are at middle age are somewhat obliged to do, I think about the disparity of thoughts and priorities that must be present on the islands of Japan juxtaposed with those of my friends, neighbors and colleagues. The people of Northeastern Japan are facing what will probably be the most life altering experience of their generation. That is of course assuming that they survived the initial quake and wave.
As I write these very words, somewhere someone is sitting in a pile of rubble clinging to their last moments of life and I would be willing to bet money that they are thinking, "How can the rest of the world go on as if nothing has happened and I am lying here with a bridge support crushing my legs which lost all feeling more hours ago than I can remember?"
But the sad fact is that the world does keep turning, even if it is at a skewed axis that was shifted approximately 10 centimeters by the quake. I think everyone has probably encountered a moment when they feel angry that everyone else's lives are proceeding normally while theirs has been turned upside down. So if you multiply that by ten to fifteen million people or however many people were affected in Japan you can't help but think that there are some pretty upset people out there.
I can't imagine what they might be thinking. My personal theory is that they are all still in shock and expect things to return to normal in a few days. I also think that in the cities nearest the epicenter that what they once thought of as normal will never return and their lives will be bifurcated into two parts, pre-quake and post-quake.
When you stop to think about the numerous facets of the destruction there are so many aspects to consider. Certainly, there's the loss of life, but there are also other things to consider like the damage to infrastructure as well as the financial obstacles which must be overcome. Not only do they have to rebuild entire cities from the ground up but they have to do it with diminished resources. Electricity is no longer something that can be taken for granted in NE Japan, especially as it appears that many, if not all, of the nuclear reactors are possibly permanently out of commission.
From what I understand Tokyo was damaged but for the most part is still substantially operating as normal with the exception of food and water shortages. The important thing, as I understand it, is that Tokyo has the majority of the infrastructure intact so that they can still operate ports and runways and can act as a distribution center for relief efforts.
In any event I still think about the how different the mood must be on the other side of the planet. Here I am hacking out this blog and knowing that upon its completion I can walk back over to the refrigerator and get a nice cold glass of "Ghetto Juice," aka Hawaiian Punch, while in Japan some person is literally dying from dehydration at the exact same moment.
I think it's been just about three days since the quake and if Doc Robbins on CSI is correct that's about as long as the average person can live without taking in some form of hydration. That being said I will feel a little guilty about the Hawaiian Punch I will be drinking here in a few minutes after I post this blog.
I will be thinking about all of the helpless people, particularly those at the two extremes of the spectrum, the very young and the very old who are most susceptible the brutal conditions in which they have been placed either by quake or by wave. So be thankful for every moment that you draw breath because you never really know what is going to happen next. Five minutes before the quake hit those people had no idea at all that they would be dead in a few moments, or even worse lingering for hours before finally succumbing.
But in reality, the fact is that there is absolutely nothing you can do for these people. We are worlds away both literally and figuratively. All of the money you will be asked to donate will be for naught because by the time you send in your donation most of the people who will die from these events will already have done so.
If sending in a contribution to The Red Cross or UNICEF or the World Health Organization makes you feel better then by all means go ahead and do so but the truth is that money can't fix these problems. People die and they always will. The world has played host to major calamities in the past and it will continue to do so. I remember that as a kid I read about a flood in China that killed almost a million people and I thought to myself that things like that could not happen with today's technologies and notification systems.
Well I was wrong (I know... hard to believe) because the Christmas Tsunami a few years ago killed about 250,000 people. Not quite a million but close enough for me to realize that nature just has a way of showing people who is boss and as long as we inhabit the Earth it will always be like that.
So be sad for those who suffered and are continuing to do so, be happy for those who were destined to die and did so instantly, and if you need a more positive note think about all of those who were in the region and survived. But above all be thankful that you weren't in one of the three categories listed above. And if this post should somehow be read by someone in Japan who survived these events: Hats off to you and tell us your story!
Death comes to all of us at some point. So if some of us muse about Godzilla being to blame for all of these tragedies it's mostly because we know that someday we too will look over the city skyline and see that big green lizard coming to take us out. And just like those in the quake, there won't be a single thing we can do about it.