Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan.

I wish I had no words.  But I do.


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When disasters happen in far-off places in the world, some people I've run across shrug and say, "At least it wasn't here."



I can't fathom that response.



I can understand getting numbed by your own personal life and pains.  I can understand not comprehending just WHAT the disaster really means -- the aftermath, for instance.  Long after CNN quits reporting on things, the effects live on.  Katrina isn't over.  Haiti isn't over.  So many things aren't over.  



I understand, too, people feeling like they're constantly trying to help, running auctions for this and then for that, and oh my God, something else just happened.  It becomes almost too much for the brain to handle.  I understand that.



I've been to Japan.  My husband lived in Okinawa for years and we both are checking on friends there and on other islands.  We have friends in California (we lived there for a while, too).  And we currently live in a town on the eastern shore of Maryland that is essentially surrounded by water, so when things like this happen -- we get that nagging worry in the back of our minds.






So what to do when things like this happen?


One is just to send out prayers, white light, Reiki, whatever your particular brand of healing love is to the people involved.  It is so.very.hard to comprehend one minute life is fine, and one minute, no it's not.



Another is to think about this on the smaller scale, and be kinder to our fellow man.  You never know when something might happen in the blink of an eye.  Instead of scowling at the man who cut you off in traffic, think instead, "maybe he's rushing to something more important than I understand".   Smile at people you don't know.  A LOT.  You never know what may have happened that day where a smile helped them turn the corner from a miserable day to a lovely day.



I didn't write this post as a downer -- it was hard to write and rewrite this to get it just-so and I'm sure I missed the mark.  My main point is to have empathy as well as sympathy.  Empathy is defined as "understanding and entering into one's feelings."  Take your own life experiences, and take this, one of many tragedies that have hit the world, to help you make the space around you a better place in some small way.


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Hug the ones you love.  And (((virtual hugs))) to all of you, my friends.






Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

51 comments:

  1. honest and beautiful and I completely agree. as much as we like to whine about the little things, somewhere there are big things happening to other people.

    I send all my thoughts to people who have lost loved ones, pets, businesses, homes or livelihood. I hope they can recover and enjoy life again, soon.

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  2. When something like this happens, it makes us realize that much of the things we worry about are really insignificant.
    My heart goes out to these poor devastated people.

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  3. thank you for the reminder, Lori! and I love the HP reference! Hope to see you on Sunday, even if only for a few minutes as I register and you check out :)

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  4. I took some philosophy classes about a century back, WAY back in Germany, and I remember those lessons about ethics.
    I don't know if it translates properly into English, but apparently there's "far- away ethics" and "close- by ethics.
    A very random, harsh and maybe inappropriate example: If your dad slaps your mum 'round the face, you are shocked and find it, to say the least, entirely inappropriate. Same for your brother- in- law slapping your sister.
    You'll try everything in your power to stop him because you know it's wrong. Very wrong.
    If you watch a feature on the news about a guy being locked up for slapping his wife about, you'll most likely go "serves you right, you so- and- so!", but maybe, just maybe, you wonder if she might have provoked him just a little- which, of course does not justify a slapping, but, you know, some women are just a handful, right?
    And then you read about corporal punishment for unfaithful wives in some ancient cultures.
    My, this is awful, stoned to death? Didthey really do that? Boy, aren't we lucky to live in an enlightened age where this is not happening, eh?
    But you don't feel the pain as you did when you saw your Mum being slapped. You don't feel the same rage you did when you saw your sister cut and bruised. You know it must have been pretty awful, but there's no edge, no immediate connection, no deep empathy. It was, after all, a long time ago.
    And "a long time ago" translates into "a long distance from here" in the human mind. The further away from home in time or space something takes place, the less it tends to "cut".
    Empathy can be learned and achieved, but it usually is a painful experience which makes most people reluctant to "switch it on".

    Whow... how's that for a comment that I meant to say "I feel for those affected"?

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  5. Great quote. It saddens me. I am hoping the damage is much less than we think it was. I hope.

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  6. A big hug back to you, Lori, and no you didn't miss the mark. It is so very hard to come up with words for some of the terrible things happening.
    You did a mighty fine job.
    Susan

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  7. How lovely. I can't comprehend the devastation brought on by all these disasters, and I can't be there to help. But I can be there in spirit and send along healing thoughts. We're all in this world together.

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  8. My dear Lori i don't think you missed the mark at all, i think you spoke from your heart, and i know i heard it loud and clear as i know others will too you are a very compationate women and have given us all a lot to think about,my thoughts go out to all that are affected by this disater.

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  9. thank you Lori, for your beautiful post. indeed, life is fragile and if there is some good to come out of tragedies like this, it is in our response of the way we live our lives.

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  10. and Lori, I hope and pray that your friends will be safe, I'm sure you must be very worried.

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  11. alice7:43 PM

    Hugs to you and your family!!!
    The people of Japan and their families are in my prayers.
    Alice's Beads and Baubles

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  12. You may have heard about our recent earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand. It was devastating to the city and caused severe damage and loss of life and livelihood. It will take decades to bring Christchurch back to what it used to be, and in fact, many of the old buildings will be unrepairable. Now the earthquake seems quite trivial compared to the Tsunami in Japan.

    It is so important to appreciate what we have at this moment, because it only takes a moment to have it all taken away. Recent events have made me reassess life and what it truly means to me. Our planet is fragile and our lives are no different. I believe we should Live life with meaning and appreciate everything that comes our way, because it is there for a purpose and can all disappear in a flash.

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  13. Lori, what a lovely, thoughtful post. I can't fathom what the people of Japan are going through right now. But I can pray for them, and for the safety of those in the path of the tsunami.

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  14. I can't turn away from the TV. The images are haunting. I hope your friends are all right.

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  15. Thank you, Lori, for reminding us to shine a light where we can, as often as we can. Best wishes for your friends and acquaintances in Japan and California who may have been affected by this latest of tragedies.

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  16. Beautifully said, my thoughts have been over the Pacific all day long. We can only pray and help in any way we can. I lived in Hawaii for 3 years, met my husband there, and got friends over there. Thinking of them all. Hugs!

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  17. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

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  18. Thank you for such beautiful words. Well said. Also thanks for reminding us to look at our lives and think of what really matters. My prayers are with Japan and all those affected. I'll do my best to spread kindness. Like Ghandi said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

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  19. Spot on post Lori. Thank you. Let us pray for all that are suffering.

    Namaste

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  20. Beautifully said! You are so right, the recent disasters of the world are not over. I live in North Mississippi and love everything about the Gulf of Mexico, and no, Katrina isn't over and neither are the effects of the Gulf oil spill. So much devastation and destruction in our world that touch each and every one of us in some way, big or small. We all have many things to be thankful for, but also have so many reasons to pray for and help those less fortunate. Hope and pray that you find each friend you and your husband are looking for to be safe and well.

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  21. I like the way you handled it. Yes, we get numb for all the horrible things that happen around us. Some times they are far away and some times they are some one very close to us.

    It takes special people to fathom other people's sorrow , get into their skins. I say they are story tellers, or writers or even artists. Lori, you have that with in you. You are blessed.

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  22. It is sad that as we become more techno, and receive information instantaneously, we become more numb to the reality of it. We in the US are so blessed in so many ways. Yes, we do have tragedies like the oil spill and Katrina, but we also have many more resources for help than a lot of countries like Haiti. It is a wake up call to feel empathy towards every tough situation, and be grateful for every blessings. Thank you for the post Lori.

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  23. such a lovely post lori. :)

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  24. You are a truly beautiful person. This post was so awesome and poignant and true that I sent a link to it to all my friends and both my kids and my husband. Everyone can benefit from reading this. Thank you.

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  25. Oh Lori thank you for this heartfelt post. I cannot put into words the way that you have to describe how I feel. Helpless and hoping my prayers will help. It does begin with our fellow neighbor right here in our own land. Then we can reach out and give our best to help others. Blessings to all who are in such great need...

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  26. I'm still stunned when I see footage. I sat fairly numb this morning watching it. I cannot even begin to imagine. It makes me take stock of our own disaster plan, we live on an Island and it's something I've thought about more and more over the last few years. We've gone from 20 horses to 3, and can fit them all in one trailer load, something that brings me a tiny bit of peace. Our kitty can fit in the living quarters in his travel box and we can if need be leave the area in a short time frame. It makes me realize I need to live, today for you just never know what tomorrow will bring.

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  27. Beautifully written and so inspiring. Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be so many more natural disasters lately. It's really scary.

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  28. Lori,

    Sounds like you ran into a jerk. Just remember, there are more that care, then that don't. And most people are not able to see beyond their own experiences and reality. Just like most of us in the united states will complain about money problems, especially these days. . Yet if you have any spare change, pennies in a jar, coins in a dish, just having those spare coins, makes you in the top percentile of income in the world. Most of our realities are far from real. Especially if we live in the united states.

    It does feel helpless watching them on tv. but I do believe prayer itself, regardless of religion, prayer has healing powers.

    So I say pray. when you see disaster on the other side of the country, or when your passing a stranger broke down on the side of the road. pray for them. I hope they pray for me when they see me n need. Because I absolutely believe in the power of it. We are all connected, and our thoughts effect each other.

    (HUGS)

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  29. Seems to me, every week there is a new disaster or catastrophe of some kind. They keep getting bigger and worse. It is getting so that I just don't want to hear any more news - it is always heartbreaking...

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  30. I try to remember the saying of Plato : "always be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle".
    I can do nothing to prevent the disasters we hear of, and little to help the poor people afterwards, but I can be nice and kind to those around me in the hope that it makes a difference. Otherwise, feeling so helpless would be hard to bear.

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  31. Great post. You're absolutely right about everything you said. My heart breaks for Japan. As a New Orleanian, I know just what they're going through, and what they'll be dealing with for many, many years to come. I just hope those Nuclear Reactors don't melt down.

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  32. When things in life turn out wrong, THEN is when you realize how lucky we are.
    Most of the time we take our lives for granted and that is such a waste of the things we have.
    I also do pray for all people involved on this disaster, for those who are in Japan and all family and friends that cannot do much at the moment but pray and hope that their loved ones are ok.
    Life can change you in just a moment, and as you know this has just happen to me. It is not too bad, but at the end of the day it has changed my life and my way of thinking.

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  33. I've got the news on now, feeling sad and anxious. I have family in Japan and have not heard anything yet - it such a horrible feeling, the worry. These times truly give us pause to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for and possibly take for grantid. So many people have been impacted and will be for years to come, if not a lifetime.

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  34. Beautiful reflection- I love what you said about the person who cuts you off possibly trying to get to an emergency. Thank you for the thoughtful words.

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  35. Japan and the Pacific Rim, I was horrified at the devastation and feel those people. I try to count my blessings every day as I have so little to be unhappy about.

    P.S. Just finished going through all the bead soup entrants, the variety and ideas are amazing, congratulations to everyone.

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  36. Japan, the devastation is unbelievable, I can't even begin to understand how those people must feel. I try to count my blessings every day as I have so little to worry about.

    P.S
    Just finished going through the entrants to the bead soup party, amazing, such wonderful creations. Congratulations to all.

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  37. Lori you have the sweetest spirit and I completely agree. Thank you for your insight to help us all comprehend the devstation
    Be Blessed

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  38. As I sat here on California's Central Coast yesterday, waiting for our tsunami, I thought about my stress and how minuscule it was compared to the magnitude of the tragedy in Japan. It is still hard to enjoy things, or be productive. So sad.
    By the way, we got ocean surges, but no real damage.

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  39. Very thoughtful post, thank you for writing. The video from Japan is horrifying. I can't help but look at the houses being mowed down by the water and not think of how many people must have been in them. And I saw a clip this morning of an SUV being washed over the edge of a road and its rear window wiper was going. That means somebody was in that car! In a different time and place, that poor somebody could just as easily be me. So scary. But all I can do when these disaster happen around the world is donate to the groups that will help in the clean up, so that's what I do.

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  40. Very wise words, Lori. You definitely did not miss the mark.

    There is a God. He hears our prayers and numbers our days. My prayers go out for all those affected by this natural disaster.

    I hope all your friends are okay.

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  41. A beautiful post Lori!

    A few blocks from my home here in Seattle is the Japanese consul's home. I keep thinking of Consulate-General Ota and his wife and staff and how difficult it must be for them, being so far from loved ones during this tragedy. I've been trying to figure out what would be an appropriate way to let them know that people here are thinking of them.

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  42. A very thoughtful post. A good friend of mine has many family members that live in Japan, including one who lives several miles from the nuclear reactor in danger of melting down. They've heard from some, but not all...I can't imagine what they and everyone else with family there is going through.

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  43. Great post, Lori, I was shocked when we returned yesterday night from Paris and I saw the pictures. It is ao terrible.

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  44. Thanks for being bold, to speak on the thing that we are all dealing with. To share it so beautifully. Its just hard to see so many suffer. Its hard to know it will go on and on. Its hard to imagine the fear and uncertainty they face. I pray for Japan. I pray for us as "humanity" that we will feel these things like it were our family. That even though it is happening to people we never met, that we can love them enough to have empathy. To care. We live in an age where it is so easy to tune out what you don't want to deal with. But some things need to be dealt with. Burdens need to be shared. Prays need to go up. My heart breaks for them.

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  45. It's hard to turn on the tv and watch was has happened and know that the recovery will be such a long process. Those of us, in safe areas of Japan, can only sit and watch and try not to let the thoughts of "that could be us" overtake our daily lives.
    We are trying to keep things "normal", but....discussions of what is happening are inevitable.
    On the news tonight, the rest of the country was urged to do what we can....hospitals are collecting clothes and supplies for the children (and others, but the little ones are first on the list), we are uged to save electricity as all excess is being "sent" to the northern areas. This is all just too surreal.
    The idea that 10,000 people were just swept away, in a few minutes is almost unbearable to think about.
    Here is a site that is going around to all of us....for anyone who is looking for someone or needing information or for those who want idea on how to prepare for something like this.
    http://nip0.wordpress.com/

    Thank you for your thoughts. Please....continue to pray...prayers are good.
    ~~debbie, nagasaki city

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  46. Beautiful post, Lori. I hope it's ok if I pass on a bit of it to my Facebook friends - especially the Dumbledore quote. It's so important to remember kindness, love and respect for each other - no matter what.
    Peace and beading love,
    Sheryl
    Cool Moon Creations

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  47. Your words are straight form the heart. These are feelings that many of us have and you wrote the words so well.
    I too am surprised at comments about "at least it wasn't me". How very sad to even say those words.

    We are ONE HUMAN FAMILY.
    Any kindness is precious. All prayers are important. Love and caring have no boundaries.
    If it happens to someone else, it also happens to me.
    Thank you for a meaningful post today.

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  48. Thank you Lori for a beautiful post...you are on the mark. My daughter and two granddaughter's live in San Francisco,I pray everyday for their safety. Also, I taught in four cities in Japan and am sending prayers to those wonderful students and their families...may be safe.

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  49. (((HUGS))) I hope all your friends are ok!

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  50. I too, am aghast at some of the flip responses I have heard regarding the immense suffering going on in Japan right now. I wrote something too and was worried it would come off as 'preachy' but then I just decided I had to make my case...it was lovely seeing your name on my comments...thank you so much for all the work you have done egging us all on our own creativity journeys...your honesty and refreshing candor is filled with a lot of light...

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  51. Wish I wrote this- it is so on the mark! Yes it is good to take these things we don't understand and let it make our hearts bigger and more compassionate. God bless you! Patsy from
    HeARTworks

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