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どうか希望を捨てないで!Don’t Give Up Hope!

March 24, 2011

Before I know it, another week has rushed by me without my consent. I never used to understand the grown ups when they woefully commented on how quickly time flies. Aah~ obviously my youth is fleeting. Tomorrow is two weeks since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. For the next several months, I think I will always feel a bit of a sting on Friday afternoons. I’ll always remember 2:46pm. So many lives changed instantaneously.

There has been a burden on heart to discuss the topic of HOPE recently. Depending on where you stand in relation to this tragedy, this may seem like either a very odd or very appropriate topic to be writing about. I want to approach this with the utmost sensitivity because my feelings are coming from a place of deep hurt but also deep sympathy.

希望 - Kibou - Hope

There is a massive wave of heartbreak underlying the everyday lives of people here in Japan. Yes, everyone is being strong and going about their lives but there is a sensitivity hanging in the air, making us catch our breath unexpectedly with every little tremor and newsflash. The media is consistently presenting the honorable, patient, courteous side of Japan’s reaction to the nightmarish conditions that have befallen the country. There is no chaos. There is no looting. Everyone is standing together, working together, and surviving together. For those of us who live here or for anyone who has experienced Japanese culture up close, this comes as no surprise. Indeed, the polite respect for each other has helped to soothe surfaces and it has kept any mass, public outbursts of panic at bay. This is a great asset to society in such times turbulent times.
However, I am afraid that the true heart of the people and the still, very urgent needs of the victims are not being properly expressed. I am not putting blame on anyone for this, nor am I trying to imply that in fact there is mayhem in the streets. What I do want to stress is –

    please do not confuse a strong cultural bond to propriety with stoicism.

I am continually stunned and caught off guard by the deep emotional sensitivity felt and displayed by the Japanese. Tears flow freely at the drop of a hat. As a teacher, I have seen how emotionally devastated students and faculty members are when someone moves away. Goodbye speeches read aloud are completely unintelligible due to the open sobbing. I have had teachers ask me to redo entire lessons because

    one student

was out with a cold. They simply couldn’t bear to have them miss out on the fun.

For such a tight knit, profoundly group oriented society, can you begin to fathom what it must be like for them to have lost so many loved ones?

These people are grieving in private but I assure you, they are grieving.

As I was watching the news, I saw an interview with a survivor. The headline read that her story was miraculous. Her heart held a very different perspective. She quietly tucked her head down as tears fell to her cheeks. In a broken voice she explained that her husband, two children, and parents were all killed. Beyond that, she lost every possession she owned. “I’m not so sure that I am thankful to be alive,” she murmured. How do you even begin to pick up the pieces of a broken life?

In Japan, the suicide rate is notoriously high. My hope as of late has been for the survivors to find Solace and Comfort. I fear that for so many, they will despair until whatever end.

    I hope for hope.

So I am doing all I can to help ease the physical needs of the hurting, in order to give them proof that once again, good things can happen in the world. People care and will rally around them to protect them and uplift them. I want to spread this message of hope. I hope you will join me! Please continue reading, further down, to see how you can help!

I want to thank you all so much for your love and support for Japan over this last week and half. Your messages of comfort and offers of help have been so appreciated! Now that the days have begun to pass since the initial shock and horror of the disaster, relief efforts are begining to become more organized. I know that in the first few hours there is such a rush of compassion and people tend to give quickly but now that there are much more logistics taken care of, the real work begins. Please don’t forget about Japan at this time. I have updated my 【HELP JAPAN!】 page with new links containing very practical ways to help beyond simply giving money. Please check there! Please, give generously!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Paulien van den Burg permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:31 am

    Dear Jen,
    I have been thinking and thinking what to reply to you these last weeks (I’ve subscribed half a year ago) and I just don’t have the words to express how I feel, how my heart reaches out to al those people across the world living in Japan having to live with this tragedy every day. The first days, I thought, why don’t they reach out for help? I didn’t think the people of Japan to be untouched, but I thouht perhaps it’s cultural pride? But reading your blog made me realise that it is something else: that they want to stand vast together, to shoulder it together and that they do! And the only thing that I can come up with is to bow deep, very deep, for all these people. (And donate of course ;))
    From Holland,

    • April 3, 2011 2:33 am

      Paulien, thanks so much for this thoughtful comment. Glad to see you around my blog. 🙂 I, too, feel at a total loss when I try and comprehend what has happened here. It’s overwhelming. Thank you for donating! You have helped make a real difference in the lives of these precious people. Japanese culture can be difficult for foreigners to understand at times but I think the bottom line is that we’re all human. Culture does shape us but a human heart is always a human heart. Let’s keep the hope and encouragement going!
      Take care! 🙂

  2. Kaitlyn Whitaker permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:18 pm

    Dear Jen,
    Thank you for all of the posts you have made about the tragedy in Japan. I was deeply affected by all of this happening too. I am a dedicated, Japanese foreign language student, I was very hurt by all of this happening at once. There will always be hope however! At my high school, I have organized fund raising events with my Japanese teacher and so far we have raised around 500 dollars. We will keep up the good work. We will be sending it to aid Japan.

    Kaitlyn Whitaker


    • April 3, 2011 2:30 am

      Kaitlyn- that is AWESOME to hear! I applaud all of your amazing efforts to help Japan! Keep up the good work! Indeed it has been an awful tragedy but as long as warm-hearted people like yourself continue to care, we can make a difference not only in Japan but around the world! Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  3. Ray Naito permalink
    March 27, 2011 10:04 pm


    I am deeply touched by the tragic happenings in Japan. I did donate via the Japan American Society of Hawaii and I truly hope that the little I could afford will in someway bring joy to someone in need in Japan.

    I am also very proud that you as an American are doing so much to bring awareness to the what the people need. You have studied the culture well and I commend you for that too.

    God Bless.

    • April 3, 2011 2:29 am

      Ray-san, thank you so much for donating to the relief efforts. Every single penny helps. Large, small… those terms are irrelevant. You have made a difference! I am an American but Japan has truly become like my home in this last year. I will continue to do all I can to help this beautiful country. Thanks for visiting my blog! Hope to see you around here again! Blessings!

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