The New Cloud from Japan
Charles Pellegrino ends all his correspondence with “Omoiyari” and he has good reason to adopt this Japanese word.
Dear Frances:Omoiyari: To think of the other person first. The great hope is that such thinking becomes contagious. In America, a variation on the theme is called the “pay it forward” principle. (To think of others, to live in service to others, hoping that [rather than paying back a favor] each person will pay it forward to someone else.) Although it is an improbable hope, the hope is, nevertheless, that in unexpected ways, a ripple effect might reach into, and change the lives of people who might otherwise, perhaps as children in war and occupation zones, think there is no good in the world and otherwise grow up wanting to do something evil. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was one who lived by this principle. Dr. Nagai of Nagasaki and Sadako of Hiroshima – and Takashi “Thomas” Tanemori – are other examples. What’s important about this is that it does not leave all hope in the hands of government leaders around the world, but empowers even children to bring about change.
See you later,
Acts of “Omoiyari” have become the new cloud from Japan, not the fear of radiation, but inspirational stories of “Omoiyari.” A Nisei friend of mine told me yesterday, “I am so proud to be Japanese after all these years.”
“Yes,” I told her.” Pearl Harbor took this away from us, it’s been a long wait.”
“Omoiyari” is already happening as seen from these stories out of Japan. frances
Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”
And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of
birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady at a bakery shop. It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread. Even at times like this, people were trying to find what they can do and it made my heart warm.
In the supermarket, where items of all the shelves fell, people were picking up things so neatly together, and then quietly stand in line to buy food. Instead of creating panic and buying as much as needed, they bought as little as they needed. I was proud to be a Japanese.
When I was walking home, for 4 hours, there was a lady holding a sign that said, “Please use our toilet.”
At Disneyland, they were giving out candies. High school girls were taking so many, I was thinking, “What???” But then the next minute, they ran to the children in the evacuation place and handed it to them.
My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just to one person. So he wrote a sign: “If you’re okay with motor cycle, I will drive you to your house.” He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take one gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa!
A high school boy was saved because he climbed up on top of the roof of a department store during the flood. The flood came so suddenly, that he just saw people below him, trying to frantically climb up the roof and being taken by the flood. To help others, he kept filming them so their loved ones could see. He still hasn’t been able to reach his own parents but he says, “It’s nobody’s fault. There is no one to blame. We have to stay strong.”
There is a lack of gas now and many gasoline stations are either closed or have very loooong lines. I got worried, since I was behind 15 cars. Finally, when it was my turn, the man smiled and said, “Because of this situation, we are only giving $30 worth gas per each person. Is that alright?” “Of course its alright. I’m just glad that we are all able to share,” I said. His smile gave me so much relief.
I saw a little boy thanking a public transit employee, saying, “Thank you so much for trying hard to run the train last night.” It brought tears to the employee’s eyes, and mine.
A foreign friend told me that she was shocked to see a looong queue form so neatly behind one public phone. Everyone waited so patiently to use the phone even though everyone must have been so eager to call their families.
The traffic was horrible!! Only one car can move forward at green light. But everyone was driving so calmly. During the 10 hour drive (which would only take 30 minutes normally) the only horns I heard was a horn of thank you. It was a fearful time — but then again a time of warmth and it made me love Japan more.
When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on. Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.
Suntory (a juice company) is giving out free drinks, phone companies are creating more wi-fi spots, 1,000,000 noodles were given by a food company, and everyone is trying to help the best way they can. We, too, have to stand up and do our best.
Whenever there is a black out, people are working hard to fix it. Whenever the water stops, there are people working to fix that too. And when there is problem with nuclear energy, there are people trying to fix that too. It doesn’t just fix itself.
While we are waiting to regain the heat in the cool temperature or have running water, there were people risking their life to fix it for us.
An old woman said, on a train: “Blackouts are no problem for me. I am used to saving electricity for this country, and turning off lights. At least, this time we don’t have bombs flying over our heads. I’m willing to happy to shut off my electricity!”
In one area, when the electricity returned, people rejoiced. And then someone yelled: “We got electricity because someone else probably conserved theirs! Thank you so much to EVERYONE who saved electricity for us. Thank you everyone!”
An old man at the evacuation shelter said, “What’s going to happen now?” And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry! When we grow up, we will promise to fix it back!” While saying this, he was rubbing the old man’s back. And when I was listening to that conversation, I felt hope. There is a bright future, on the other side of this crisis.
Dr. Pellegrino’s reference to Takashi Tanemori book, “Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness” appears in one of my blog posts. I also posted reviews on two of Pellegrino’s books.
Shikata ga nai….Gaman….Omoiyari
Read Full Post »