Sunday, 21 April 2013
The Sound of the Crowd
PIC: Carlos Arredondo.
Last week was a highly disturbing week. While the Brits were getting their knives out for Thatcher's funeral and singing along to 'The Witch is Dead", America was in shock from the Boston Marathon horror and a highly suspicious explosion in Texas.
Rebecca Solnit, in "A Paradise Built in Hell", and Patrick Fox, in "3/11: The Fallout", both wrote about the effect of a sudden, catastrophic shock on human communities. That shock could be the result of terrorism - such as the destruction of the World Trade Centre, or the poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system; or it could be through natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina or the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In each case, evidence was found that the majority - the majority - of citizens responded by helping each other, in some cases, placing themselves in danger to help others.
With this in mind, I have been extremely interested in the reports of those brave individuals who rushed to help others in the first few moments after the Boston Marathon explosions. If you have any thoughts on what this says about human nature in the face of an unstable, traumatic future, please leave your comments below.
The week has also shown that the destroyed Fukushima No. 1 plant is still in a highly fragile state, TEPCO are still struggling to understand how to cope with it, and that radioactive contamination of food and water supplies is a very real danger.
This was also the week when the Japan Times ran an article on another book with 3/11 in the title. This was "3/11: Disaster in Change in Japan", by the director of the Center for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and expert on Japanese politics, Richard Samuels. It makes for highly sobering reading.
"While there have been important changes in some areas, this was not a rebirth of Japan ... Normal politics are very powerful. Ideological divisions are very hard to overcome."
- Richard Samuels.
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