Japan with love
The reports and pictures about the situation in Japan dominated the media in the last week surpassing even the (possible) genocide in Libya. We were able to see horrible pictures of devastation as well as to witness the dignity the Japanese people are facing the tragedy with. Still, to me the most stunning aspect of the situation is something else.
After similar tragedies in the past, the majority of the people suffered not only from the objective circumstances but also by the increasing crime rate.
In fact a human tragedy frequently causes abuse and fraud.
- Some weeks ago, after the suicide-explosion on the Moscow airport, the cab drivers increased their rates by several hundred percent for taking passengers from the airport (to which - admittedly - the society reacted with Twitter appeals to go to the airport and offer free transportation).
- Last year Chile asked for foreign(!) military help in their fight against the crimes after the earthquake.
- The marauding in New Orleans after the hurricane Katrina 2005 required also military efforts and surprised even cynics, as the "Washington Times" wrote at that time.
We see a completely different behavior in Japan!
Despite the fact that the people virtually emptied the shelves in the stores, there are reports of dropped(!) prices by the owners as a reaction to the unusual need and the overall situation. People are waiting in lanes and there is almost no chaos. Owners of vending machines were shown to give the water out of them for free.
People are helping each other and this is new (for Joe, six-pack)!
It is not that there are no crimes in Japan. They do have their own Mafia - the Yakuza. One would think, what happened to these guys? Why are at least they not humiliating the suffering people?
In the last days I tried to find an explanation for this "phenomenon".
Analysts write things about respect and discipline as a way of life in the Japanese society.
They refer to things like the high population density in the islands, making respecting each other a necessity.
Some think that the Japanese are like a grey mass of a society (pretty much like the Scandinavian ones), lacking individuals and diversity.
All of these observations might play a role in the explanation of how the Japanese deal with their tragedy, but they don't really convince me.
I have always admitted my sympathy for the Buddhism.
The fact that I generally consider religion as one of the most negative factors in the contemporary world is mostly based on observation of Christian claims, Muslim activism (and partially Jewish rules).
Buddhists don't try to convince the rest of the worlds in anything (like Jews, admittedly).
Also, Buddhists are vegetarians for ethical purposes!
I don't know a lot more about Buddhism and probably this is the reason I tend to refer most positive experience in the Asian culture to this religion.
Fact is that there is no Christian or a Muslim society, regardless of it's development level (take UK, USA, and Chile; remember what happened after the horrible earthquake in Turkey 1999?), so far able to demonstrate even close behavior in a crisis to the one always claimed.
Japan clearly serves as example for altruism these days. And the Japanese deserve a lot of respect for this!
Written by betso on 03/17/2011, 12:00am in"Politics".