Monday, March 21
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 email@example.com 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.