No. 812



As the old saying goes, “When you are up to your armpits in alligators, you don’t have the time to stop and drain the swamp.” This is exactly where the people along the eastern coast of Japan found themselves on March 11, 2011, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck this island nation and a 30-foot tsunami rolled across the landscape, destroying everything in its path. The world watched in horror as the tsunami swept away boats, cars, homes and large commercial buildings, and widespread fires raged out of control, taking the lives of hundreds of people. It is unbelievable the amount of destruction that took place on this fateful day.
While it will take years for this nation to completely rebuild, there was something that came out of this tragedy that could teach the rest of the world something about life and how to live it. What I am referring to is the character of the Japanese people. Here in America, when we have an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, a hurricane or some other widespread disaster, one of the first concerns the authorities have is how to keep people from looting. Question: do you get as upset as I do when you see people who have lost almost everything they have and are truly hurting, and some low-life comes along and takes what little they have left? I don’t know about you, but when this happens it makes me very unhappy.
The thing that makes me most unhappy is not the loss of material things -- these can be replaced -- but it is the total lack of character on the part of far too many of our citizens. In this respect, it is obvious the Japanese can teach us a lot about the human condition and how to treat others. This approach to life may just come from their culture and, if it does, we could definitely use some of it.
What I am going to share next has been on the Internet for some time. Every American needs to read, hear and think about these exemplary qualities, especially parents who are rearing children. Here are 10 things to learn from Japan.
1. THE CALM – Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief, sorrow itself has been elevated. 2. THE DIGNITY – Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or crude gesture. Their patience is admirable and praiseworthy.
3. THE ABILITY – The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall. 4. THE GRACE (Selflessness) People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something. 5. THE ORDER – No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just total understanding. 6. THE SACRIFICE – Fifty workers stayed back to pump seawater in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid? 7. THE TENDERNESS – Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak. 8. THE TRAINING – The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA – They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage. Most of all – NO POLITICANS TRYING TO GET CHEAP MILEAGE. (Politicians from other countries- are you listening?) 10. THE CONSCIENCE – When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.
Please don’t misunderstand what I have been saying. Most Americans would do the same thing, and more. It’s those people who flunked potty training that I am talking about.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)