Category Archives: Thoughts

2011 Sendai Earthquake – 東北地方太平洋沖地震

Despite numerous disasters that happened in my lifetime, few were able to cause me to be concerned enough to be constantly checking for updates.  One was Tropical Storm Alison, which struck my hometown while I was overseas. Another was Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation to neighboring state of Louisiana (and consequently an influx of refugees to my state and city).  The most recent is the Sendai Earthquake (東北地方太平洋沖地震) off the northeastern coast of Japan estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey at 9.0 on the Richter Scale.

The Great Hanshin Quake (阪神淡路大震災) in 17 January 1995 – though devastating and within my lifetime – did not have quite the effect as this one, possibly because I did not actually know anyone in Japan personally.  This time, a friend of mine who studied here in the States with me in high school (and later attended Waseda University 早稲田大学) that I still keep sporadic contact with is living there.

The day of the quake, I could not fall asleep and thus decided to check Twitter when I caught wind of the quake as well as the ensuing tsunami.  At around 03:00 CST, I found a live feed from the NHK which showed a massive wave spreading over the land, leaving devastation in its wake.  Dread came upon me, and I tried to contact my friend.  Of course, he wouldn’t respond until much later, but the concern kept me glued to the constant surge of updates on the event.  The unending devastation – the earthquake, the aftershocks, the tsunami, the nuclear threat, etc. – brought out thoughts and feelings I still find difficult to put into words.  As one who has travelled and seen the beauty of the countryside and the country itself twice, I was appalled to see the results of the tsunami taking place.

Examples of the destruction that ensued from the quake can be viewed here.

Many at this point were unaccounted for or possibly dead.  Then someone collected a bunch of posts from Facebook and posted it on Twitter here.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as furious at people as the period of time that followed immediately after reading that post.  I don’t think people remember Hiroshima or Nagasaki which ended the Pacific Theatre against Japan.  After reconstruction, Japan is one of our biggest allies in the East Asian region.  There is nothing to “get them back” for.  I’m not saying that the deaths of our people here in the States should be forgotten, but neither should those of our former enemy and current ally.  Furthering bloodshed or hatred only continues that circle.  There was also the incident with the troll who posted a video thanking God for the tragedy that struck.  I’m normally alright with trolling, but in this instance it was tasteless. No international disaster should be made into such a horrid “joke”.  Also, the way it was portrayed as well as how far it travelled only served to worsen the international image of us Americans and Christians.  It is no wonder that the international community or those who are not Christians tend to view us as dislikable.

By then, I began to lose faith in humanity once again (seems like it fades away pretty easily for me, huh?).  But then, a friend of mine linked me to a collection of Twitter posts from that someone translated.  Here are some of my favourites:

* 段ボールに感動
http://twitter.com/aquarius_rabbit/status/46213254376210432
ホームで待ちくたびれていたら、ホームレスの人達が寒いから敷けって段ボールをくれた。いつも私達は横目で流してるのに。あたたかいです。
Card board boxes
Thank you! It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come. Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!” I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth. Such warm people.

* パン屋
http://twitter.com/ayakishimoto/statuses/46403599743451136
昨日の夜中、大学から徒歩で帰宅する道すがら、とっくに閉店したパン屋のおばちゃんが無料でパン配給していた。こんな喧噪のなかでも自分にできること見つけて実践している人に感動。心温まった。東京も捨てたもんじゃないな。
The bakery lady
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school. It has long been out of business. But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free. It was a heart-warming sight. She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need. Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!

* 日本ってすごい
http://twitter.com/tksksks/statuses/46403815397801984
日本って凄い。官僚も民間も、皆で助けようとしてる。トラックの運転手も有志で物資運んでるらしいし、東北の交通整備をヤクザさんがやってるという話も聞いた。最近、日本に対して誇りを持てないことが続いていたけれど、そんなことない。日本は凄い国だ。素直に感動してる。日本国の皆さん頑張ろう!
Japan is a wonderful nation!
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today. There are truck drivers helping evacuees move. I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region! There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore. Japan is an amazing place! I’m just simply touched. Go Japan!

* 声をかけること
http://twitter.com/RUMI88LoL/statuses/46342599149240320
昨日、裏の家の高1になるお兄ちゃんに感動した。 家に1人で居たらしく、地震後すぐ自転車で飛び出し近所をひと回り。 【大丈夫ですか―――!?】と道路に逃げてきた人達にひたすら声掛けてた。あの時間には老人や母子しか居なかったから、声掛けてくれただけでもホッとしたよ。 ありがとう。
A strong voice
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy. He was home alone when the earthquake hit. But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright? Is everyone okay?” At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes. I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay. Thank you!

* いつでも買える
http://twitter.com/7474529/status/46565903520907264
今日、募金箱に金髪にピアスの若い兄ちゃんが万札数枚入れていた。そしてその友人に「ゲームなんていつでも買えるからな」と言っていたのが聞こえて私含め周りの人達も募金していた。人は見た目じゃないことを実感した。そんなお昼でした。 この話感動しました。
Goth youth
A goth youth with white hair and body piercings walked into my store and shoved several hundred dollars (several tens of thousands of yen) into the disaster relief fund donation box. As he walked out, I and people around me heard him saying to his buddies, “I mean, we can buy those games anytime!” At that, we all opened our wallets and put our money into the donation box. Really, you cannot judge people by their appearances.

More of these stories can be seen here.

As a student of a health-care profession, I wish to help in any way possible.  Of course, it isn’t quite possible for me to travel over there to help for multiple reasons.  Currently, I’m spreading whatever news I can find on the topic.  Also, within the Cultural Diversity Committee, I (along with several classmates) am pushing for a fundraiser and/or item collection to aid in the relief effort.

For those of you that may not be around for that, there are different ways that you can pitch in yourself:

Microsoft organized some support and also included several links to different places you can support or help.  These groups include NetHope, The American Red Cross, World Vision, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, and AidMatrix.  Another organization I found is Second Harvest.

Please help in whatever way you can. No one deserves to live through disasters such as these.

Death in the “Season of Life”

http://www.click2houston.com/news/11269337/detail.html

Hearing so much about teenagers dying in car wrecks, you try to ignore it, but it’s a sad fact. And even if you accept fact, you keep hoping and thinking that it would never happen to those you knew.

I have to rethink my position on this.

Bryan Truong was a great guy. Student Council, intelligent, funny at times, and just an outright leader. He only graduated last school year.

And after graduation, it all ends. Just like that, because of a speeding car.

The thought of it makes me sick. I mean, here’s a guy who many would think had a great future ahead of him. Then there’s a lot of idiots who – sadly in my opinion – don’t deserve to even walk this Earth, nor even be under this Earth. So many of them continue to live, and someone like him is gone before his schooling even ends. Life isn’t fair, and this is a PRIME example of it.

It’s the first time anyone I knew of my age has passed on. It’s a huge shock.

All I can think of right now is, did he feel anything? Did he see it coming? What thoughts rushed through his mind as the car crashed?

I can only hope he made it into the “great beyond.” I can’t believe he can vanish into nothing, despite what modern science says. I can’t believe that religiously, nor can I believe that mentally.

My details are still blurry. Was his car the one that sped? Was that the only car involved? Or was there another car? Was he at fault, or was he the innocent? Was drunk driving involved?

No matter. It is still a shame to see a life like that wasted by a stupid motorvehicular accident.

Almost makes me want to go live in an urban area where I can just WALK everywhere instead of driving over the entire dang town.

Desensitivity of Student Mentality

Over the course of mingling amongst my peers while in public education, I have become absolutely convinced that we have become desensitized to many issues that should under normal circumstances would be matters of concern.

Take for example, about two years ago: 2 April 2005. Pope John Paul II – one of the most revered pontiffs to have existed – had just passed away. Of course, many were saddened, even those that weren’t Catholic. However, a couple of students in my AP World History class (of which one would think the students would have learned some “cultural acceptance”) were making “pope jokes”. Many of us were upset about this. Yet these paltry individuals had the effrontry to play down a subject others took seriously. In the place of one in the “took this subject seriously”, I have to say, I was quite offended. Even if one were not to have much interest in the subject, one should not make comments that could offend others on sensitive subjects, especially about death.

In the past few years, my school has been on the news multiple times. Freshman year: Stabbing. Sophomore Year: Fight puts student in the hospital. Junior Year: I stopped caring – it became redundant.

Fast-forward to the present. A student reportedly left a cryptic, threatening message in the boys’ restroom. According to an associate of mine, part of it read: “Blood will rain in the halls on 3/8/07”. Investigations were pulled by the local liason officers and determined it a prank. Prior to this being labeled as a prank however, students were playing it down as if it were some hilarious, comedic monologue or something. Now, not saying that one should be supremely worried since it was in the end a hoax, but have we begun so desensitized to homicide and death that we begin to treat it as a huge hoax? I quote: “If someone does shoot tomorrow, I hope I get shot in the shoulder. That way, I get to live and say ‘Hey, that was pretty cool.'” When that person actually gets shot, I doubt that “Hey, that was pretty cool” will be the first thing to occur in his mind.

I also wonder, what causes these people to make such threats – empty or not. Does the prospect of taking lives excite these people? Or does it seem to be the effect that everyone will become fearful? If that is the case, these people don’t do a very good job, as seen by those masochists in the last paragraph. In retrospect, it may do us some good to not be fearful of every potential “terrorist” attack.

Perhaps these people believe that by striking fear into others, they gain fame and recognition. Doesn’t happen if people don’t know who it is. They should also take notice, no matter how large a school is, there’s still not a large proportion of the world that could even give a hoot about whether you threatened a school or not. Would the world’s leaders care if 3,200 students in a high school in the United States was threatened by one fatuous CHILD that believes that by attempting or threatening to kill his peers will mean he accomplished something? Somehow – despite the leaders emphasizing how they are representing the people – I doubt it.

But know this. If it turns out there’s any truth to this threat, I WILL live. I REFUSE to die before this comes out.