There is a line in Star Wars – Episode IV – A New Hope

The planet Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star, killing millions.

Obi-Wan says:

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the Earthquake and the Tsunami in Japan to the level of a movie. But I can’t change the way I feel.
I feel helpless. Sad. Useless.

I wish, sometimes, that I had faith. I see people who do and I know it must be a great comfort to them.

But I think, even in the absence of faith, that as human being on this planet, as a fellow passenger in our journey through the galactic universe, whatever it may be, that you have to care.

It scares me when people don’t.

I was glued to the TV coverage Friday after we learned that one of the largest earthquakes ever had caused a huge amount of damage to mainland Japan.

Mid-day I had to leave for an appointment.

This is not meant to be a condemnation of radio.

OK, it is, sort of.

I scanned and twisted the knob on the family truckster on the way in a vain effort to learn if the Tsunami was engulfing our western shores.

I heard lots of music, some religion and nothing anywhere about the very real possibility that our coastline could soon start, out west, in Nevada.

No one cared.

I sat in the waiting room. I needed some work done on my personal chassis.

Twenty other people ignored the big TV tuned to CNN showing pictures of unimaginable destruction.

A man sat underneath the TV, reading a paperback, as the pictures showed a nuclear reactor exploding. Not make believe. Not Hollywood effects. A catastrophe was unfolding above his head. The top blew off a nuclear reactor and it caught on fire. It was shown live a foot above him.

He turned the page.

In the exam room I sat in my open back hospital gown trying to get my smart phone to cough up some news about the disaster. Was Hawaii being washed away?

The pretty, young, Physician’s Assistant came in and admonished me about the cellphone. The Doctor would not be pleased. I put it away.
I mentioned the Tsunami to the Doctor. He nodded and told me to turn my head and cough.

I stopped at a bakery on the way home. The lady behind the counter was politely interested in my thoughts about nuclear reactors in Japan. She was more interested in my order.

She made sure I got a baker’s dozen.

It’s clear to me that life goes on. That is as it should be.

Even a local tragedy like the flooding unfolding that same day, is always measured by the same yardstick. How will this impact me? Will my house, my car, my family be OK?

But in spite of my lack of faith, or maybe because of it, I think we have to care. We have to care about what happens to others. We have to have compassion, feeling.


I couldn’t name for you a single person in Tagajo, Japan. Last week I wouldn’t have known how to say it, or been able to point to it on a map.

Officials there say 10,000 may be missing. May be dead.

Fill the Mohegan Sun Arena to capacity. Look at all those people. Consider them all floating, face down.

Possibly it’s because we are so wired now, so able to see across the world in an instant, to know in real time of all the tragedy that befalls humans on this spinning Earth that we can’t care. It’s too much, an overload.

I wish, sometimes, that I had faith. I wish I could explain to a grandchild why Japan? Why now?

Why at all.

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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