Monday, March 21

Is it "unfair" to blog about Japan?

My friend Lauren started a forum on "20-Something Bloggers," posing the question:  "Have you posted something about the tsunami in Japan?" A handful of people* responded that they hadn't-- and in fact, they were morally opposed to doing it.

To paraphrase, they explained that there are many ongoing humanitarian crises that bloggers and everyday media completely ignore, and so it seems unfair to bring more attention to Japan's tsunami when it has already completely saturated the news.

They also pointed out that the tsunami was an unpreventable natural disaster, unlike the smaller-scale genocides, false imprisonments, etc. that are caused by people (and therefore preventable), and have been going on for years.

They brought up some good points, and I had gone through a similar train of thought before I wrote last Monday's post. I ended up posting about it anyway, because blogs are about sharing our personal perspectives on the world-- and because I lived in Japan for a while, that day my thoughts were all about Japan.

At the same time, though, I heard many people say they didn't post anything because they had no connection to Japan, and they were worried that people would judge them as 'insincere' if they did. We ALL have a connection to Japan;
** we are fellow human beings. When we hear graphic stories of their struggles, we imagine ourselves in their place. Empathy is in our nature.

However, it's also in our nature to be more moved by natural disasters that kill thousands of people in one day, than ongoing atrocities such as kidnapped children being trained as genocidal soldiers. While it's projected that the tsunami has killed 20,000 people, over 4 million people have died of hunger since I started writing here in October. 

Yet even if some people blog about natural disasters, and never once write about anything more preventably human-caused, I've realized: only good can come out of empathizing with fellow human beings, whether it's "fair" or not.

Sadly, sometimes it's seeing graphic, disturbing disasters on the news--like the latest in Japan-- that help us realize how many living, breathing people there are in the world. Real people, who suffer, love, lose, and rejoice; rather than just abstract countries like "Japan" or "Libya" or "Chile" that we once memorized in high school Geography class.

Me writing about the tsunami was unfair. But it wasn't last Monday's post that caused the unfairness. It's the fact that I've never written about anything else that's pulled on my heartstrings. 

So while this blog isn't going to turn into a "cause-of-the-week" depress-fest, and while I certainly don't think I have the answers to any humanitarian issue, I do think it's important for all of us to stand on a soapbox every now & then and speak to our passions. So, every now and then, I will.

*I'm not sure about how to credit this discussion/the people involved in it. If you were involved in this part of it & want some credit, email me at and I'll link to your blog or profile.

**I don't mean to say that everyone with a URL to their name should write something about Japan-- different stories affect different people.  But I do think it would be cool if we would start speaking up when things do affect us.

Photo credit.


Sy's Prints said...

really interesting post.

Kristie said...

A bit of a similar discussion has been going on elsewhere on the interweb. Deviantart has had a lot of people making "pray for Japan" artwork, and some have reacted to that, like this. To be honest, if you are writing/drawing/etc to raise awareness of humanitarian aid opportunities (and not just disaster voyeurism), I don't see anything wrong with writing about Japan. When Haiti's earthquake filled the news, I'm sure that the island greatly benefited from the countless ways to donate or help that followed those discussions (heck, even the Duck Store offered several ways to donate to disaster relief).

Markie said...

I very much agree with you. Similar thoughts went through my mind before my Japan post... but I decided to post about it because it felt almost insincere not to. Not that everyone with a blog should have... but I just couldn't post about my favorite latest fashion inspiration while a whole nation was being completely devastated.
I think you are also right that we should talk a little more often about the things we believe in.
Good thoughts!

d'Artagnan said...

Very good post! I agree with you, especially your point about how we are all connected because we are all human beings.

Married In Chicago said...

I read this post on my phone on my way home from work and I was nodding along the entire way.

I think it is silly to say it isn't fair to blog about Japan . . . as though if some causes don't get attention than no cause should. That just doesn't make any sense!

If I'm speaking honestly, I chose not to blog about it because I feared that it would be viewed as "jumping on the bandwagon" or something of that nature. Plus, I was worried that anything I said would come across as trite.

Liz said...

Super interesting conversation... I definitely see all sides of the story, but think if you feel compelled to write about it and are moved by this tragedy, then go ahead.

L.Baker said...!5783426/how-to-react-to-bad-news-online

Looks like a hot topic right now! I like the idea if you're sincere your message will be taken sincerely.

April said...

Thanks for the link, Lauren! This quote was reassuring:

"social support is one of the most robust protective factors against the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, and this is true across different types of traumas."

Not that I think that my blog post accomplished that, but it's nice to know that sending facebook messages, etc. can make such a difference

vojacque said...

if it moves you in any way, shape, or form, do it. for whatever reasons and for whatever ways you choose to spread the words, it will show through the delicate thoughts in your writing. this is lovely written.

Kelley @ Kelley Maria said...

I like your points and completely agree.

Kim said...

I didn't get a chance to comment on this yesterday as I had desperately wanted to. I don't think that blogging about a massive natural disaster from a human perspective can be put into terms of fair or unfair. I understand that there are horrible things happening in the world on a daily basis, and that unfortunately this disaster has overshadowed it to some degree HOWEVER....
I don't blog to be fair. I don't blog to bring light to war, poverty, or to try and make a difference. I blog about my life and what moves me. I don't feel it would be 'fair' of me to put an undereducated opinion or voice out there about situations I don't fully understand or know much about. I do know that people of Japan have undergone great hardship; I do know that it personally touched the lives of people I know, and I know that it broke my heart and made me feel like I will never be able to do enough. I feel like anything that brings compassion to the collective voice of humanity has got to be a good thing.

Jeff said...

I totally agree with you. Your blog is about your thoughts and what affects you. I'm sure we could all write more about various important causes, but just because we can't write about every single worthy tragedy in the world doesn't mean we shouldn't write about the ones that move us.

April said...

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments!

Kim, I really love your take on it. I agree with what you said about "undereducated opinions," very good point!

Sam said...

I think that caring at all about anyone who is not yourself makes you a good person. Don't let people beat you up for giving a crap. Maybe Japan gets a lot more press than other places, but its the thought and intention that counts.

April, you are one of the most genuinely loving and caring people that I know, so I wouldn't worry so much about how you come across. Everyone who knows you knows that you are genuinely loving. It oozes out of you like a ready-to-pop zit!

Anyway, that's my two cents. And I think everyone made really good points.

I got into this a little late because I don't have internet access, so I basically just repeated what everyone else said, but anyway...