Most of you are aware of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan last week. What I want to highlight today, however, isn’t the disaster, but (1) the manner in which the Japanese people are responding to this terrible crisis and (2) share several ways we can help Japan during this time of adversity.
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No Signs of Crowd Craze and Mob Violence
We all know the typical response immediately after a tragedy – chaos, looting, violence, mob mentality, and other look-out-for-yourself behaviors. But, for now anyway, that seems to be absent in Japan. Instead, we’re seeing the spirit of the Japanese people stand strong despite this adversity.
“Looting simply does not take place in Japan. I’m not even sure if there’s a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear ‘looting,’” said Gregory Pflugfelder, director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University.
Japanese have “a sense of being first and foremost responsible to the community,” he said (source: http://goo.gl/oacpa)
Keep in mind that the normal course of action is to enforce order and enforce crowd control, but since there’s no mob-like behavior that takes key personnel away from truly pressing needs, everyone can focus on the highest priority items – that is, nobody is distracted by unbecoming and mob-like behavior.
Think of it this way: if there’s looting and mob violence, medical and security personnel will be on the scene to assist victims and to enforce order. But, since there isn’t any of that in the Japan earthquake so far, medical and security personnel can continue to focus on finding real victims from the tsunami and the earthquake.
This picture demonstrates my point, courtesy of CNN:
Instead of violence and looting, we see people that continue to behave the way they behaved before the earthquake. This rapid return to normalcy, psychologists say, will help Japan more quickly recover.
A cultural anthropologist, interviewed by CNN, commented that the real question is not why Japan is responding so dignified and orderly, but
the real question is why looting and disorder exist in American society [and the West].
Consider this picture of a food line in Haiti after it was hit by an earthquake in 2010:
There is a stark difference between the queue behavior in Haiti versus the queue behavior in Japan.
“Such social order and discipline are so enforced in ordinary times that I think it’s very easy for Japanese to kind of continue in the manner that they’re accustomed to, even under an emergency.”
The communitarian spirit at the foundation of Japanese culture seems to function even more efficiently under the stress of disaster, he said.
The natural American inclination is to operate independently.
“So you do everything you can to protect your own interests with the understanding that, in a rather free-market way, everybody else is going to do the same. And that order will come out of this sort of invisible hand.
“And Japanese don’t function that way. Order is seen as coming from the group and from the community as a sort of evening out of various individual needs.”
Commenting on whether this behavior is a type of self-protection to the Japanese society and whether it will help Japan more quickly recover from this tragedy,
Will this social attitude help Japan recover from this disaster? “In a word, YES.”
How You Can Help
Here are several ways we can help in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, courtesy of CNN and Associated Press:
- The U.S. State Department is urging any U.S. citizens to contact friends and family as soon as possible. They can also e-mail the State Department at JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov. Those seeking information on security in or travel to Japan can call 1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444.
- Google also is assisting in helping victims touch base with friends and loved ones. Its People Finder, which was tracking about 114,000 records as of Sunday morning, allows users to look for victims or post information about people. It works in five languages.
- As myriad nations offer monetary aid, condolences and rescue teams, many people around the world are seeking ways to ease the burden on the Japanese government and people.
- The humanitarian group World Vision is rushing personnel into the affected areas and providing food, water, medical supplies and shelter for victims.
- It also plans to establish one or more “child-friendly spaces” for kids “affected by disasters to resume normal childhood activities and experience structure and security that are often lost following emergency situations.
- Follow World Vision’s blog for updates, and visit its website or text “4japan” to 20222 to send a $10 donation to the group. It will show up on your next mobile phone bill.
- The American Red Cross also accepts donations via text message. Text “redcross” to 90999, and you can make a $10 donation to the organization.
- You can also keep up with updates from the nonprofit by following its Twitter feed or watching its Facebook updates.
- The Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is sending a team to Sendai to assess damages and hopes to provide food, water and other necessities. In Tokyo, the Salvation Army opened its main building to house and feed commuters who were unable to reach their homes.
- The aid organization is issuing updates via its blog, its Twitter feed andFacebook page. It also is accepting donations via text message. Those interested in contributing $10 to the group’s efforts can text “japan” or “quake” to 80888.
- The group AmeriCares, which is also accepting donations, said it is mobilizing resources and sending an emergency response manager to the region.
- Save the Children is sending an emergency team to assist its staff in Japan.Donations to the group’s Children’s Emergency Fund will help preserve the welfare of young ones, who “are always the most vulnerable in a disaster,” Eiichi Sadamatsu in central Tokyo said in a statement.
- Globalgiving.com, another aid organization that allows donors to select the causes they want to support – including climate change, economic development, human rights and natural disaster relief – has established a Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. GlobalGiving will disburse funds to organizations providing aid and relief to victims.
- Among those organizations are Save the Children and the International Medical Corps. The Corps, which focuses on “health care training and relief and development programs,” is speaking with local partners to determine Japan’s most pressing needs. It will send supplies or emergency teams based on those communications.
- To contribute to the Corps’ efforts, visit its website or text “med” to 80888 to send the group a $10 donation.