There is too much heartbreak in the world. Through the marvel of modern telecommunications we see so many appalling images that we become desensitized to the suffering of other humans. It wasn't always so.
Last week's earthquake and tsunami has visited destruction on northern Japan not been seen since the Second World War. If you have not personally experienced this kind of horror, I imagine that words and pictures cannot do justice to the reality.
NATORI, Japan — Hirosato Wako stared at the ruins of her small fishing hamlet: skeletons of shattered buildings, twisted lengths of corrugated steel, corpses with their hands twisted into claws. Only once before had she seen anything like it: World War II.
“I lived through the Sendai air raids and have seen this before,” Ms. Wako, 75, said, referring to the Allied bombings of the northeast’s largest city. “But this is much worse.”
For the elderly who make up a large percentage of the villages littering Japan’s northeastern coast, it is a return to a past of privation that their children and grandchildren have never known. As in so much of the Japanese countryside, young people have largely fled this area, looking for work in the city. Those who remained are confronting the deaths of friends and family members, the destruction of their homes and towns and a worsening threat of radiation contamination. It is a daunting task, equaled only by the one the oldest generation faced when its defeated, despairing nation had to rebuild from the rubble of World War II.
The Fukushima reactor expodes.
There is another side to this story - where are the Japanese looters?
NATCHITOCHES, La. — March 14, 2011 - The absence of looting in Japan has taken many western observers by surprise.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans experienced looting on a scale that astonished even American cynics. After last year's earthquake, the looting in Chile was serious enough to require military intervention.
There was looting in Haiti after its earthquake last year and in England during the 2007 floods.
So far, though, there is no looting reported from Japan