Thinking About Japan

I watched ABC World News the other night following the coverage of Japan and what has occurred since the earthquake and tsunami devastated that country. The last five minutes really struck me.  People waiting in line, patiently, for their rations of water, food and other supplies.  Displaced residents living in shelters setting up their own system for recycling in the shelter – separating the plastics from the garbage, just as one would do at home. People grouped in the street offering to share food with the news crew because they had enough and wanted to share. A video of a graduation interrupted by the earthquake and the participants immediately coming together as a group to help clear the rubble. Government requested blackout periods not needed, because citizens volunteered to use power only for essential needs. People working together to respond as citizens to do their part. To be part of the solution.

I was amazed at the manner, behavior and spirit displayed and I wondered why it is like that in Japan. It seemed pretty different than what I think has often occurred in the US following a disaster – disorder and chaos, looting and violence, dysfunction.  The news report mentioned that Japan’s culture is one that values connection to community.  The major religions promote the consideration of community when considering oneself.   It’s about being one body.  It’s part of the culture.  The other consideration is that Japan has done a tremendous job preparing the country and its people for disaster response. The people have faith in the plan. They know what to do.

So what can we learn?  How might we develop our capacities and shift our attitudes and behavior, work together, be part of the solution, in our own communities?  

This post is crossposted as a guest post to the The Patterson Foundation.