March 29, 2011
On March 11th at 2:46 pm, an earthquake measured at 9.0 on the Richter scale hit Japan creating a Tsunami of 60 feet high that swept the island as far as for 10 kilometers. According to the most recent information more than 10,000 people lost their lives and more than 17,000 are reported missing and approximately 240,000 were left homeless.
The Japanese nation stricken with unbelievable adversity has reacted in an exemplary fashion.
The Emperor Akihito said on a rare live television appearance:
“I hope from the bottom of my heart that the people will, hand in hand, treat each other with compassion and overcome these difficult times.”
It appears that the Japanese nation is doing just that.
The civilian voluntary assistance has been astounding. There has been no report of looting, rioting or profiteering from the threefold disaster of the earthquake, the Tsunami and then the nuclear accidents. The Japanese society is a very cohesive one with a strong culture of civility. Japan has a very highly dense population. Civility may be the way the Japanese cope with that density. It is interesting to know that Japan has the lowest number of attorneys per capita than any other economically well-developed country.
One cannot develop character on the national or individual level overnight particularly not in a crisis.
As Hannah Beech said in her Time Magazine featured article “How Japan Will Reawaken”- “Natural disaster lay bare the best and worst in people, stripping away hubris and artifice.”
We are all subject to a potential Tsunami in our professional or private life. Something totally unexpected can happen and sometime changes everything to the point where our lives will “never be the same.” Such changes can be brought for example by the death of a loved one, a diagnosis of terminal disease or sudden financial ruin. How we will face those challenges will depend on our character and how we have applied our values in the way we live.
As Samuel Johnson once said:
“Adversity has ever been considered the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself.”