Many know that I currently live in South Korea, an hours flight from Japan. We fly through there whenever we travel anywhere and we have recently traveled throughout Japan as well. So it hits close to home.
Although I didn't feel the message from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book was quite what I needed to write about today, I did ponder if in fact there were some lessons (or gifts) from this tragedy in Japan.
I realize that looking for the good in this situation is easy for me to say. I am sure that anyone who interviews the survivors who have lost family members (brothers, sisters, children, parents, grandparents, etc.) and all of their possessions including their homes would be hard-pressed to find any bright spot. Many of the survivors have also experienced tremendous fear, hunger, and cold that lasted hours or even days.
Still, there are tiny sunflowers that grow in the cracks of the sidewalk and this is what I am looking for.
The first thing that comes to mind is the world's generosity to help out. On CNN I saw lists of countries all over the world who were offering thousands of dollars of aid. I am comforted by the fact that world leaders are willing to help each other in time of need. I have also seen many videos of heroism among those who went there to rescue people. Many courageous acts have been done by many in an attempt to rescue and help others. I also saw much affection and care given to the survivors by other survivors and rescue personnel.
I am sure there will be a united effort among the people to join together in rebuilding the area. Sometimes tragedy is what is needed to bring people together and make things better than they were before.
But I think the most important gift of this tragedy are the lessons learned. I realized a few things. One is that tragedy could strike at any time, so we shouldn't be holding too tightly to our manufactured lives and all of the possessions that we surround ourselves with. In the end, we are left with just ourselves and who we are- alone, naked. What are we worth when all of our possessions have been stripped away? What a waste of time to gather material possessions to build us up and make us feel better than others.
The next lesson is the value of relationships. Most of us would save our family members before any of our possessions, even if we were to lose paperwork or business documents that would hurt us financially. How much worse would we feel if we lost a child, than if we lost our business? Yet we often don't make relationships a priority.
I have also been reflecting on our detachment from the natural world. In our lives we distance ourselves from everything natural. We deny death. We often ignore when other people or animals suffer, just glad that it isn't us. We don't really care as long as it doesn't affect us personally at this moment. We don't learn about the land we live on or respect nature above man-made achievements. We don't listen to the earth. We don't try to live in-tune with it. We block it out with all of our man-made packaging, buildings, roads and sidewalks. We pretend that we aren't mammals that live on this natural planet and are largely influenced by our own biology and the weather, the sea, the animals, the people, the land, the trees and plants. We get ulcers and cancer from the stress and the bad food/water and the chemicals and the potentially harmful energy that pervades our polluted air from cell phones to microwaves to Internet. We eat food that was never intended to be digested by humans. Who knows? It might all be harmless, but maybe not.
We make money, prestige, power, possessions, buildings, transportation, rules, control, judgements, opinions, etc. our goal and our eyes are so narrow we can't see who we really are. We think we are superior, in charge and in control. As we gather enough false protections we imagine that we are safe and powerful, when in fact we are not in charge. Then when the earth reminds us that it is in charge and we are at its mercy we are surprised.
We don't honor the miracle of people, animals, the land, vegetation and the sea. We trash them and use them as stepping stones up the ladder towards an illusive goal that doesn't deliver. Its an illusion. Instead of honoring the earth and realizing that we are at its mercy, we ignore it and make it more volatile.
I believe that God created the natural world and we are born here naked and wild. We are civilized as children, which I think is important, but then we emphasize and praise things that ultimately destroy.
How can we be more in-tune? Simplify. Build homes that respect nature and incorporate nature. Stop buying stuff. Get rid of your clutter. See what you can live without. Get down to the core of life. Learn about your own biology and the geography of your area. Learn about natural, healthy, local, organic food. Care about the illegal killing of animals/sea life and destroying of rain forests. Care about modern day slavery and human rights. Use natural home remedies for minor medical problems instead of throwing over-the-counter medications at everything. Take local trips to national parks. Notice nature. Notice people. Learn about potential natural disasters in your area and have an emergency preparedness plan. Learn how to completely survive out in the wilderness if you had to. Use natural, organic products on your body such as soaps, shampoos, lotions, makeup, etc. Use natural products to clean your house. Purchase used clothes or clothes made from organic cotton or other natural products. Grow a garden and learn all about gardening. Learn about the planet, the stars, the oceans, the universe. Respect the earth, care for it, learn from it. Develop your internal self more than your external self. Help others. Listen to others. Use your talents. Build your character. Face your fears. Connect with people. Love people. Connect with God within yourself and in the outer mystery of the universe.
These are all qualities and actions that I need to work on and I have been pondering about since the earthquake. The material world, the fake world that we have manufactured and constructed may seem more exciting, but it is not real life. It is an illusion, a game that we have invented. It is something the advertising agencies have brainwashed us into believing is real and desirable. In the end, nature will win. Why not get through life healthy and happy, rather than stressed and sick? We need to slow down and think about what we do every day. Are we in touch with ourselves, others and our world? Or are we detached? Separated from reality? Surrounded by fake materialism?
Just some things to ponder. Any other thoughts?
Note: If you would like to send a donation to help the people in Japan, choose from one of the reputable charities here.