Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 57: Searching For 4-Leaf Clovers

Searching For 4-Leaf Clovers

In her most recent post today, March 15, 2011, Suz at http://suz-beginagain.blogspot.com/ wrote that the events and suffering in Japan had left her "...frozen in reflection. Why?"
I could not help but have a similar feeling about the events unfolding in Japan.  In my comment to Suz I wondered about why this particular disaster, among daily disasters we witness the world over, has me feeling numb, and why it's difficult for me to wrap my mind around it.  After all, Haiti, the Christmas tsunami a few years ago, and countless other horrors have made us witness to the fragility of life time and again.

When we read about the annual monsoon floods in Bangladesh that kill tens of thousands, we tend to not pay as close attention to the event even though the loss of life is no less devastating.  The same can be said of hundreds of thousands killed by earthquakes in China or South America, or Iran.

What, then, makes this Japanese disaster different in my mind? 

Here is my theory:  Japan is not a third or forth-world country.  It is not gut-wrenching poor.  Since WWII Japan has been at the forefront of innovation, invention, engineering, and technology.  Being on one edge of the "Ring Of Fire" Japan has actively designed and promoted the construction of "earthquake resistant" buildings.  Natural disasters are more and more taken into consideration when building atomic power plants.  In the United States, we buy Japanese cars that are considered to be second to none in the world for quality and reliability.  These horrible things simply don't happen to places like Japan.  Or Europe.  Or the United States.

I'm not implying that we all believe that lives in poor countries of the world are less valuable than those in a developed country like Japan.  But if we're brutally honest with ourselves, it isn't outside the realm of reality that we don't focus on other catastrophes in equal or comparable measures the way we have on this one.

To be fair, perhaps that is MY theory for why I feel much more distressed about this event than others.  

The images and videos that are pouring out of Japan everyday are worse than a disaster flick.  It's horrifyingly real.  In a matter of seconds cars, boats, ships, and buildings are swept down streets and into the sea.  We are seeing the total destruction of life in real time.

And all the planning, designing, and engineering for the safety of humanity are gone in mere seconds.

As I said in my previous post, we must give our attention to our families, our communities, and offer what we can to the larger world community at every opportunity.  I often say that this planet will dispose of us in due course, and the crocodiles and cockroaches will be here long after our species is vanished.
It's true.  In the world's garden of life we should seek more than one color of flower and celebrate those rich visions.
And we should stop looking for 4-leaf clovers for luck:  Appreciate the beauty of the three leaves we find in life before a season or nature brings it to a close.

Rick Baker 
March 15, 2011
Rochester, NY 

©2011 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo courtesy of Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales


  1. good thoughts...we forget way too fast...that is the pace of our world. haiti was only a little over a year ago...i think this one def showed it can happen to anyone...

  2. yes, I do see your point on this one
    But I wonder if it isn't that they suffered two now three disasters one right after the other...not a chance for escape
    it is protracted suffering
    but they did find a 4 month baby alive today

  3. It makes us realize what a fragile thread we are all hanging onto. Enjoy those three leaves today.

  4. You are so right, we have a chance to correct our perspective and priorities.

  5. it freaked me out too. the philippines is pretty close to japan. i remember when it happened. it dawned on me that i had done nothing really big and it was completely possible that my life would be over soon. i'm glad it isn't and i grieve for our japanese brothers and sisters.

  6. Hey Rick, I found your essay very interesting because I think what I feel is strangely, the exact opposite.

    Yes, I am saddened but I am not shocked. I'd like to think its not because of being jaded but maybe because I have come to accept certain things; tragedies, joys and sorrows as part of life.

    Maybe as we grow older, we begin to understand the world and ourselves in deeper ways. But what never fails to amaze me is the resiliency of the human spirit, and the kindness of strangers.

    Cheers from Manila,

  7. Complacency is a big problem in the world today....you have a beautiful heart Rick...thank you for sharing what needs to be heard!