We pray for succor for the admirable Japanese people as they try to survive the devastation of last week’s earthquake. It appears that the nation is dealing with the problems as best as can be imagined, though I hope that food supplies and clean water will soon reach the stranded millions. For even well bred and well socialized people may resort to brute behavior after prolonged starvation. There is still a difference between decent public morality and true virtue, and the latter will always be exceptional, even in the best regimes and among the best peoples.
Commentators on the news and on blogs are remarking on how well the Japanese seem to be handling the disaster, but such resolve in the face of catastrophe should be what we expect. Human beings have survived in hostile environments for millennia; is it so shocking? What should trouble us Americans is the rot exposed by the Katrina fiasco. An entire population that needs constant, imposed order and the institutionalized provision of their daily needs are clearly deficient in their ability to survive. Those poor blacks of New Orleans were not fully functional adults. They were the pathetic results of generations of leftwing infantilizing, in which they experienced no accountability or responsibility. When floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters happen in the Midwest, the descendants of Germans, Scandinavians, Poles, Czechs, and Croats do not go on looting sprees. They do not sit idly around and expect F.E.M.A. and the American Red Cross to rescue them. Rather, they start working to manage the emergency as best as they can. That is what civilized human beings do. I bet that such occurs in Ghana, as well, with its clannish connections and village focus. I also suspect that such probably occurred in the old South. I wonder if Willy Du Bois had any idea of what his aspirations would truly entail. Of course not—Leftists are delusional about human nature.
We should keep the Japanese in our prayers. The northeastern region around Sendai that was most affected by the earthquake has an Orthodox and Roman Catholic presence, which is, of course, small compared to the overall population but significant to the Christian population of the islands, nonetheless. Let us remember them, all the Japanese people, and the deceased.
On a selfish level, I personally hope never to have to witness the destruction that these people have experienced. The video and photographs are like something from Hollywood’s apocalyptic action movies—Jerry Bruckheimer in real life. Auster links to the following remarkable video that shows the gradual ravaging of the tidal wave. Imagine seeing your hometown get swept away, knowing full well that many of your neighbors are perishing as you watch and that you can do nothing about it.
I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo a few weeks ago, wherein a tsunami totally envelops Japan. I have always admired the Japanese appreciation for the forces of nature, which is quite conspicuous in their fantasy films. I think that the origin of that cultural trait is a bit more obvious to me now. Even though the loss of life and property baffle the mind and sadden the heart, I still find the unleashed forces of nature awesome—literally. For awe involves both fear and fascination. As I wrote, I never want to experience these forces, but I do find them strangely attractive. I hate loss and destruction, but I cannot deny that I detect a thrill in my soul when I witness such overwhelming displays of natural power. The financial success of the aforementioned Bruckheimer suggests that similar feelings are widespread. Perhaps, in every heart lurks the specter of Shiva who delights in destruction. Is it demonic or something else—a sort of primordial appreciation of our turbulent and violent world?
I read that there were some damage and death in Crescent City, California that resulted from the quake. I visited there seven years ago to see the redwoods. My mother asked me how an earthquake off the coast of Japan could affect California. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a great visual aid:
The world is a frightening but interesting place.