Sad News Stories

In 36 hours Japanese nuclear technicians have seen their facilities rocked by the largest earthquake in the country’s history, plowed over by one of the largest, fastest moving tsunamis on record, and exploded as a result of their efforts to prevent a meltdown.  Multiple systems failures, meltdowns, explosions, and radioactive leakage are either taking place right now or remain on the horizon.  Oh… and 10s of thousands of their countrymen are dead or missing.

If this were a video game, I’d have hit ‘reset’ by now.  If it were a Hollywood screen play, the writer would have scaled it down to make it more believable.

Unfortunately, it is reality and I just can’t wrap my mind around it.  My world is a million miles away from that news story.  Woke up this morning, played backgammon, recorded voice over for a project, and now I’m sitting in Atlantis musing about world events.  My small little world keeps on turning.

But for this nuclear disaster, I truly wouldn’t have given it another thought.  Seems like there’s always trouble somewhere.  Revolutions, natural disasters, biological epidemics, and global economics, measured in death tolls, injustice, and humanitarian relief campaigns.  More of the same, over and over again.

Water is wet, the sky is blue, and some future disaster looms on the horizon.  Hearts will pour out.  News will cover it.  Broken humanity will be on display for people like me dissect in conversation over water coolers.

I’m drinking coffee in a nice cozy place while some poor bastard is sacrificing himself so that others may live.  Does feeling guilty help?  Perhaps I could write some impassioned article about the completely unimaginable events transpiring across the world from me.  Would that accomplish anything?


I choose not to empathize with their situation.  I don’t mean to be callous.  It’s just that, they don’t need my pity.  I don’t have any skills or means whatsoever to help their situation.  Instead, I choose to focus on my own backyard.

I do have the means, skills and ability to help people in my community.  I volunteer at my old high school and I try to help kids find themselves through their art.  Some of these kids are inner-city, low income types.  Maybe in some small way I can affect a positive change in their lives.  Maybe they’ll go on to do the same for a handful of others.  Maybe those handful of others will go on to do the same for others yet.  Maybe, without even realizing it, the simplest effort can yield the greatest force of positive change.

The world doesn’t need revolution, disasters, and other sad news stories to remember to care about the rest of the world.  The world doesn’t need super-human efforts from a handful of ‘heros’ to become a better place.  The world needs all of us to put forward the least little effort to make our own communities stronger.

Imagine what kind of world we’d live in then.

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