Earthquake in Haiti. Tsunami in Indonesia. Cyclone in Burma. Extreme weather worldwide, from drought and fire to blizzard and flood. Natural disasters are horrific, with perhaps their only redeeming aspect being the way in which human beings come together to aid one another in their wake.
3/11, the “Great East Japan Earthquake,” was a triple disaster: earthquake followed by tsunami followed by nuclear meltdowns. And today is its second anniversary. At 2:46 pm Japan time people will observe a moment of silence in honor of those lost.
I mention it here in commemoration not only of all the lives lost in Japan, but also for those multitude of lives lost worldwide in disasters in recent memory. It has opened a huge and much-needed debate around climate change, the interconnectedness of our planet, sustainable development, nuclear power and alternative energies, and citizen involvement.
On this second anniversary of 3/11, the clearing of debris has mostly been completed. You can take a look in this powerful series of photos from The Atlantic. Though rebuilding is only just beginning, plans are now mostly completed. My college-hood friend Dan Kahl has been very faithful in keeping those of us outside Japan up-to-date on post-3/11 developments. You can find his Twitter feed here.
The major English-language daily, The Japan Time, has a series of second anniversary articles, if you are interested.
And, if you’d like a more research-oriented, academic look at 3/11, you might be interested in this International Policy Digest article.
I find it meaningful that as we commemorate 3/11, many people in Japan are wearing haz-masks and staying indoors, away from the cloud of yellow sand and chemical pollutants that have blown their way from China. Our planet, indeed, is so inextricably connected; what any one of us does, impacts others, in ways we so often do not anticipate.
My heart is with all my friends, family and colleagues in Japan. I am so sorry for all these trials. And I am so very proud of all of you. May we all do our best to protect this planet we cohabit, and to share our unique gifts fully with one another.