From Man-Made Revolutions to Nature’s Deadly Wrath

As closely as I have been following the events in Libya, hoping the country will avoid falling into a civil war and manage to overthrow the lunatic colonel once and for all.  As I assume it is only a matter of days until Yemen becomes yet another example of the failures of preemptive reform As I watch with great interest all the flurry of Saudi Arabian activity in the region, be it in “keeping the peace” in Bahrain or providing “inspiration” to Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution-Part II (how could one miss King Abdallah’s radiant image overlooking Martyrs’ Square in Beirut on March 13?).  And as I monitor with cautious optimism the public protests in Damascus, there has been one country, one people, one tragedy on my mind all along: Japan.

And I am speechless: by images of complete and utter destruction, by the exploits of friends and colleagues to ensure their safety and that of their families, by the potential long-term effects emanating from the nuclear power plants, and by the stoic bravery in the face of each and every Japanese determined to put his/her country back on its feet.

As many drills as they make you go through, as much as they try to prepare you psychologically, one can never be prepared for such a catastrophe.  Ever since the last major earthquake hit Kobe, Japan in 1995, the country has been expecting the “Big One.”  And so it came, 16 year later…

I do not by any means intend at hiding my bias. Japan is a country that embraced me as I made my first steps into adulthood.  A country I never fully appreciated until I left it and a country that changed me in many ways.  I think to be able to understand the feeling of living through an earthquake more than many people, although I will not even pretend to imagine what people felt when the earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11.  Yet our sense of humanity obliges us to salute and stand by a nation who not only lives under the constant threat of nature’s wrath and was the only one at experiencing the devastation of “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy,” (the atomic bomb) but which has now been hit by both, simultaneously.

In the past, and in the face of such physical and psychological devastation, Japan has not come out unscathed.  It has managed to become a stronger nation in facing what may come next and not weaker in the face of an unpredictable destiny; a country united by a common history and determination to live and not on the verge of breaking apart.  And I am sure that this time will not be any different.

It is never easy to stand up after having been swept away by the forces of nature, never easy to come to terms with catastrophe and move on, but eventually that is what happens.  At the end of the day, the sun will rise, as it always has, in the land of the rising sun…

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