In the week following the earthquake, tsunami and damage at the nuclear plants in Japan, I watched the coverage that continued to be fed back from the ravished areas. One thing that struck me was the people lined up for aid or shopping or transportation, etc. for hours on end, even days after the initial onslaught. It was amazing how quiet and peaceful and orderly and respectful everyone was toward one another.
I heard the stories about how everyone was helping each other out and one story in particular stood out to me. It was about a man in a grocery store who found 10 bottles of water left on the shelf and quickly scooped them up for himself. As he was proceeding to the checkout, he must have had a change of heart because he turned around, went back to the shelf and put 8 of those precious bottles of water back on the shelf for others and only kept 2 for himself. What a selfless act!
I thought about the coverage that I had seen on television following disasters in this country. There was rioting and looting and fighting and arguing and so many people complaining about the government not doing enough for them. Of course that doesn’t apply to everyone but there was a substantial amount of it happening and many of the perpetrators were laughing about it the whole time. I guess it is no wonder that people around the world have such negative images of Americans. As I watched hours of coverage all over Japan, I didn’t see so much as one example of bad behavior and had these disasters occurred here, I don’t think I would have been able to say the same thing for how some of the people would have chosen to act.
How did we end up becoming such a selfish society in this country? This is not how things were when I was a child. This is not the behavior and thinking that I was taught. I know so many people who could care less about what is going on in Japan, or any place else in the world for that matter. The focus is on themselves, what they want and how to get it regardless of what they have to do and over whom they have to walk. To them, what is going on elsewhere has nothing to do with getting that fancy new car or house. It has nothing to do with trying to make their competition for a promotion look like a fool in any manner possible. And for some of them, they are hardly aware that anything is going on outside of their own world – period.
I don’t know whether my speaking out about this will make a bit of difference in so much as one person’s life. However, I do know that if we all keep sharing our own behavior of treating others fairly, thinking about others and how we might be able to help them and sharing our love of life, we can create a new/renewed way of thinking. We don’t have to do anything extraordinary but just be ourselves and always being willing to think about others and help in any way that we can. Our examples of loving and caring and sharing do make a difference and do have an influence upon others and if we all work together, we can move mountains.
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Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.