by: Kiyotaka Harai
On the afternoon of March 11 when the devastating earthquake hit northeastern Japan, Taylor Anderson, 24, from Chesterfield County, Virginia, was at the gate of an elementary school located in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture. The graduate from Randolph-Macon College, north of Richmond, had been in Japan since 2008 to teach students English under an exchange program sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Education. As soon as a warning of prospected tsunami was issued, Taylor took care, with her school colleagues, all students could safely leave school with their parents who rushed to fetch their beloved children. After she confirmed the children reunited with their parents, she herself left the school by bike.
That was when she was last seen.
Three days later, it was confirmed that Taylor herself had not survived the tsunami which followed the quake. The sad news was relayed to her parents in Virginia, who had been looking forward to seeing her back home in August.
In Onagawa Town, east of Ishinomaki City, Mitsuru Sato, senior vice president of a small marine product company, was shocked at the gravity of the quake. The company, which ships marine products to Tokyo and other big cities, accommodated for 20 young trainees from China at that time. They had been on-the-job-training (OJT) program in the field of processing and shipment of marine products. The Chinese ladies got frightened by tremors and rushed out of the factory to take shelter at their nearby dormitory. Noticing at once that these young ladies did not know anything about tsunami, the 64-year-old executive shouted at them that they had to run up to a hill.
He guided and rushed them up along a woody hillside path to a shrine located on the top, where he thought safety was guaranteed. Then he rushed back the hilly path downward toward the dorm site, probably to help his family members and other colleagues, only to be swallowed in tsunami in the wink of an eye.
One of the Chinese trainees gave her witness to reporters with tears, "It was Mr. Sato who saved 20 lives of us Chinese." There were no national boundaries when it came to helping those who needed help at the time of emergency. Only love and spontaneous responsibility prevailed.
The earthquake of magnitude 9.0, one of the strongest in the history of this planet, devastated wide regions of northeastern Japan and adjacent areas to Metropolitan Tokyo. It accompanied almost unprecedented tsunami that descended upon many coastal villages, towns and cities facing the Pacific Ocean.
Myself an ardent reader of books by Dr. Napoleon Hill, I understand readers of this highly respected ezine "Napoleon Hill: Yesterday and Today!" are sympathetic to this quake/tsunami disasters and follow news through TV and newspapers. So I do not go into details about the wide-spread havoc, except that 9,700 people were confirmed dead as of the writing of this column; safety of 18,762 people is yet to be confirmed; and 257,944 people have been sheltered in evacuation centers. Regarding nuclear plant problems, too, which have brought about the radioactive pollution of water, milk and vegetables, and the evacuation of nearby residents, I just mention that no optimism is allowed.
Under these circumstances, I was proud to hear from my friends abroad.
"For foreigners, it is also moving to observe the quiet dignity shown by Japanese in the face of so much tragedy, stress, and anxiety."
"There is an interesting thing going on here: it has not escaped people's attention that there is no looting, rioting, or even pushing in long waiting lines. The humbleness of the Japanese culture and the clear conviction that we are all connected has come to the forefront."
"I was at a client's today, telling a friend who is an administrative assistant about the story of Japanese people only taking a part of the limited small rice balls because they were being thoughtful that there might not be enough food for everyone else. I got a tear in my eye as I told this young lady the story."
What is commonplace in Japan has received some admiration from overseas.
Of course, there are many cases of minor thefts even in quake-hit areas. In metropolitan areas, where damages were little compared with northeastern areas, hoarding of water and food emptied shelves of supermarkets. Still many, many Japanese people act as born stakeholders of society, feeling even guilty when they cannot share the misery of sufferers.
We tend to think that we can sense and feel the depth of sorrow and despair of those who survived, however hard they encourage themselves to go forward. But I have had a rethink since I came across Emily Dickinson, who lived a reclusive life in Amherst near Boston, Massachusetts and penned nearly 1,800 poems during her lifetime. A popular column Vox Populi, Vox Dei in The Asahi Shimbun, Japan's most trusted newspaper, presented her untitled verse before readers:
Unto a broken heart
No other may go
Without the high prerogative
Itself hath suffered.
I remembered experienced psychiatrists reportedly saying, "Survivors of big catastrophes tend to feel nobody else can really understand what they are going through." "They resent any superficial show of understanding from others." Yet survivors of the recent quake/tsunami have welcomed support extended by some 100 foreign countries including the United States. They saw through that all these support offers are sincere and heartfelt and the awareness prevailed that "the rest of the world has not forgotten us". The awareness that "there are people trying to help" is what keeps survivors going. We Japanese are deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral, spiritual and material support. We also know too well that the task of rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese.
Here, let me note an interesting fact that many Japanese seem to abide by Applied Faith, although every Japanese has not studied his 17 Principles. That is, Applied Faith is a universal principle of achievement beyond national boundaries. In my view, there seems a tacit understanding among the Japanese, in spite of this time of the unprecedented crisis, or because of this time of the unprecedented crisis, that we must use Applied Faith. It means action, according to Dr. Hill, and specifically, the habit of applying our faith under and all circumstances.
No one knows how many years it will take for Japan's ordinary people to return to normalcy of before March 2011. And not only survivors but all Japanese have nowhere to flee to.
Man is a being who does his best in his present place. We have faith in us and we know faith removes all limitations and all obstacles. This is because we know "the rest of the world has not forgotten us" and that "there are people trying to help."
We will not just aim at recovery. We shall create a new nation.
About The Author:
Mr. Harai is a freelance journalist from Japan. He may be reached through the Napoleon Hill World Learning Center's email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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