Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Japan's hibakushas

I've been to Singapore, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, and have many friends in the UK and US. But one visit to Japan impressed me more than any of my other foreign jaunts. I admire their love of beauty, their civic sense, their extreme consideration for others (it has it's downside as my Japanese friend insists).

An article in the Asian Age on 8 Aug 05, about Japan's hibakushas (the nuclear bomb victims) epitomizes the culture of Japan. All over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the thick of the aftermath, the survivors wandered aimlessly, injured and grief-stricken. But as they encountered other survivors - those worse off than themselves - they asked for pardon, that the other had suffered more, and that they themselves less. They said for example, "Please forgive me, for my legs were spared and yours were not." And even, "I am sorry. I regret that I am alive, and your baby is not." Even today, these witnesses of the nuclear holocaust sit patiently in the peace museums and allow visitors to probe and question them about their suffering. They relive their experiences again and again in the hope of arousing interest the world over in nuclear warfare and its aftermath.

How different from the way we tend to react to a disaster - with rage, with helplessness, railing against Government, resigning ourselves to the will of God, demanding help, appropriating it greedily even when we don't need it, and always forgetting our own part in the havoc wrought, our own responsibility.

Forgive the generalizations!

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