Shaken

It’s been more than a month since the devastating earthquake struck the Tohoku and Kanto region. Here in Tsukuba, things are mostly back to normal. Well, there’s the recurring aftershocks, which serve to remind us that things just are not the same as before. Indeed, it’s as if that the days leading to March 11 seem to belong to another lifetime…another era where we can just go about our daily lives without a concern, go about our business without necessarily worrying about the power consumption; even shrug our shoulders nonchalantly whenever we feel the earth move beneath our feet. Earthquakes are so commonplace that they hardly make us take a break from what we’re doing when it happens. Sadly, after March 11, no matter how much we want to get back to our normal lives and resume our day-to-day routines, somehow, things just don’t feel the same anymore. Life, as we know it, has been altered forever, no matter how revolting that idea may be.

When the earthquake happened, the earth didn’t just shake the foundations of our buildings, it jolted us out of our complacency. It brought home the message that no matter how far or how high we think we have achieved as human beings, we are really just frail beings at the mercy of the great forces of nature. Really, who can boast? On TV and the internet I watched video clips of houses and cars being washed away like toys. Japan, for all its “hightech-ness” and economic prosperity, endured the unthinkable: a triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant.

The loss of human life is just too horrifying to describe. It could have been much worse, were it not for Japan’s preparedness when it comes to dealing with earthquakes.

On top of it all, the nuclear plant crisis seems to be nowhere near resolution. They say it would probably take months before the reactors can be safely brought under control. Yes, there’s radiation being spewed into the environment, and the radiation level is a little above “normal” nowadays, but as they say it is still not high enough to be of concern. Currently, the monitoring of the radiation levels continues in various places inside and outside the perimeter of the nuclear plants. The only prudent thing to do now is to remain calm and vigilant of the current situation.

It surely doesn’t help when I hear of people expressing their fears and paranoia, which, no matter how hard I try to shrug off by focusing on objective and rational thinking, somehow manages to grate and vex my spirit. I wish they would just shut up. If Japan is becoming such a frightfully unlivable place because of the supposed “high levels of radiation” then what’s keeping them here, I wonder? Surely they are not being forced to stay here and risk reducing their life expectancy by exposure to radiation? You would think that after more than a month they would at least calm down and stop spreading their fears and panic to other people. You would think that they would at least stop reacting to each and every aftershock like it’s going to be the end of the world. Or worse, overreacting to speculations by so-called “experts”? That’s all there is to it, speculations! What would counting the number of aftershocks add to your quality of life? Would worrying about the next aftershock make an iota of difference to its inevitable occurrence?

Worried about an infinitesimal increase in the amount of radioactivity in tap water? Because of the infinitesimally small chance that it might cause cancer? It just doesn’t make sense when you consider that the real devastation happened elsewhere, “up” there, where actual lives and properties are lost, and those who managed to make it out alive are now facing a bleak future.

I say, keep it in the proper perspective!

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