Recently, nowhere was grace under pressure better exhibited than by observing the healthy psyche of the Japanese in handling the horrendous earthquake that levelled part of that great nation on March 11, 2011.
The biggest shake to hit Japan in 140 years was to trigger a 10-meter tsunami that swept away everything in its path including houses, cars, boats, and airplanes as if they were cardboard toys.
The tsunami strikes on the coast of Natori city, the Sendai Airport, Hitachinaka city, and the Onahama port in Iwaki city were not experiences for the faint hearted.
Equally dreadful were the natural gas storage tanks explosions at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city, near Tokyo, and the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.
The world itself stood in awe but impressed by this proud, assertive, hard working race still standing and comported in the aftermath of the catastrophe.
The memorable picture by photographer Hiroto Sekiguchi of a Japan Self-Defense Force member reacting after rescuing a four-month-old baby girl in Ishinomaki, March 14, 2011 - three days after the powerful earthquake - told a thousand stories.
It was quite a revelation to have received from a colleague the following compliments floating in cyberspace. There’s much to learn from the Japanese including these ten lessons:
1. THE CALM: Not a single visual of chest-beating, wild grieves, noise pollution, drunkenness or exuberant funerals. Death itself has been tamed and not elevated. Life is for the living.
2. THE DIGNITY: The disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture. One for all and all for one. Each was a brother’s and sister’s keeper.
3. THE ABILITY: The incredible architects, for instance. Many buildings swayed but did not fall.
4. THE GRACE: People bought only what they needed for the present, and did not hoard so everybody could get something.
5. THE ORDER: No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads; just plain understanding.
6. THE SACRIFICE: Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the Nuclear reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7. THE TENDERNESS: Restaurants reduced their prices. An unguarded Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was left alone. The strong cared for the weak like one committed family.
8. THE TRAINING: The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA: They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporting. No abuses. Only calm reportage.
10. THE CONSCIENCE: When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly!
Such calamities in life can be a cause for respect and a lesson to bring out our superior values, our finer instincts! Courage is grace under pressure.
By: Anis Haffar