I have always admired people the nature of whose professional work is as weighty as being a matter of life and death. Of course my own work is quite run of the mill, those “staring at desktop” kind of jobs, having its relevance within the technology industry boundaries. But I have to admit that I am completely in awe of such people who have to cope with so much pressure and possess innate mental strength, knowing that any minor breakdown or malfunction on their part might prove to be fatal for them or those at the receiving end. Medics, fire fighters, national security forces and to an extent legal professionals have some intricate decisions and tasks at hand.
And that’s why like everyone else, even I am immensely touched reading the stories of the “Fukushima 50”, the group of courageous workers trying to save Japan from the worsening Nuclear crisis by putting their own lives at risk. Apparently, the total number of workers now fighting it out to control the situation which is believed to be a suicide mission by nuclear experts, is now way more than 50 and somewhere in the region of 200.
What is saddening is the fact that these workers who are struggling endlessly to control the crisis do not know the future they face even if they manage to come out alive from the mission. The radiation levels to which they are being exposed to, can affect their normal lives in many a unknown ways for the rest of their living years.
The future of the entire nation lies in the hands of these heroic Japanese being hailed as “The Nuclear Samurais”. At a time, when most of the people including Japanese and foreign nationals are moving away from the nuclear radiation affected region, these dauntless workers are fighting it out in the danger zone day and night everyday.
For preserving the life of the larger community, a minority has always had to sacrifice its own. Its a cruel law of nature and an impending paradox!!
Disaster struck Japan last week and within a few hours the 3rd largest economy on the globe was in tatters. Its already six days past the day when Japan faced the largest intensity of earthquake till date and still there is no final number of the casualties. Nuclear threat looms large over the country. The horrific and terrifying images of tsunami and devastation on TV makes me shudder and now, I am scared to know the final death toll which can be somewhere in tens of thousands!!
At the same time, its remarkable to notice how some modern cities in Japan like Tokyo are able to survive an earthquake of the scale of 7, and all the buildings and monuments are intact still!! Had this earthquake taken place at any other part of the world, the devastation would have been even enormous and catastrophic. And this is only because of Japan’s preparedness for the earthquake due to the seismic zone it falls under.
Just a few weeks back I was in a discussion on the concept of “post growth economy” propagated by Japan, with a few friends of mine. Increasingly, Japanese economists and politicians were of the view that Japan should stop competing with other economies for the no. 1 spot and instead maintain the status quo – not stagnate – rather, settle into the plateau of ‘enough’. With a high literacy and low crime rate; life expectancy better than almost anywhere on earth – 82 years (as compared to the US’ 78); trains running to the second; unemployment as low as 5%, and enviable levels of inequality. What more could the humble Japanese ask for!! Of course, all these figures of the Japanese economy are prior to the Friday’s disaster. Now, a gigantic task of re-building the economy and infrastructure lies ahead of the Japanese people, an ironically similar situation to that of post World War II, the Hiroshima bombings incident.
Japan has always been looked upon as an economy which is ahead of its time. And one thing we can be sure of is that Japan would again rise from the ashes like a phoenix and surprise the world.
Since last few days I have read first hand accounts of many fellow WordPressers sharing their experiences of the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan. Among them is an optimistic account of an American Mom posting her earthquake experience within split seconds of its occurrence in Tokyo. I am posting her blog link here with her permission.
Hey from Japan – Notes on Moving
Many thanks to her! And wish her and everyone out there in Japan, all the strength and courage they need in these trying times.
Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. ~Christopher Reeve