Sunday, March 13, 2011

More responses to the earthquake in Japan

All this stuff makes me think about the whole phenomenon called "being concerned." Society places a great deal of importance upon "being concerned" about this, that or the other terrible thing going on somewhere in the world. I agree that a bit of this concern is useful in helping alleviate suffering in those places. But it strikes me that the vast majority of what we call "being concerned" involves getting into our own heads, turning over the information, imagining whatever we want to imagine, working up our emotions, wallowing in our feelings like a pig in mud. For some reason I've never been able to comprehend very clearly this makes us look good socially, like we're doing the right thing.
While I agree with the sentiments he expresses what's also going on in my mind, is how it affects the people I know there, how it affects my company, co-workers, upcoming business trips and so forth.  As I wrote below,  to me, this is not a TV show.   It cannot but have profound effects on what I and others are going to be doing in the near future; economically this is  worse than 9/11 for Japan.

This is not nothing.

It is a luxury that many in the USA, even folks with limited incomes can have:  to choose how to feel about this huge disaster. I'm a bit closer to it, I guess.

All of that said, I bought into the Japanese stock market as soon as I heard the news.  (Am I a heartless beast, too?)  I have a retirement and my son's education to assure.   And maybe because I'm an engineer, one of the things I'm aware of is that there will be huge amounts of capital and labor and expenditure and technology flowing as a result of this event.

And then there's the issue of Fukushima.  I am very sad about that, not because it's some bad nuke disaster. In fact I'm appalled by the scope of the disaster, but that's not what makes me sad. I'm sad because the structural design of the buildings was overseen by my father. I remember big debates/arguments with my parents about the benefits of nuclear power back in the '70s.  But one thing I always knew was that my father had done a diligent job in what he did- there are other things still standing around the world, not just nuclear power plants, that are his designs.  And a rare event has made his work in Fukushima unusable and worse.  I can imagine how the descendants of the guy who designed the Colossus of Rhodes must have felt. But in reading about it, it is obvious that the effects of Fukushima extend far beyond what my own feelings are about it.  This is a huge economic and environmental catastrophe.  The fact that it has slightly more than  tangential relationship to me is nothing compared to what's actually going on and the after effects that will ensue.

It is said there are six degrees of separation by which you can know anyone.  Maybe the number's not six; maybe it's 9 or 10, but the point is still the same.   This event affected people that are known by the people that are known by...eventually to me.  It's not a TV show; it's not Wolf Blitzer or any other CNN or ABC/Disney head droning on about it, but it is real, and it affects people.  We don't have to pretend we're concerned, or adopt a pose of insouciance, but it is real.  Thousands of people are dead.  All people will die.  There is huge and real devastation and destruction and the results of instant impermanence.  And there will be fortunes made and lost, just as there will be loved ones who have been lost of which some will be found and  others may be made anew.

Oddly enough, this profound event still doesn't have a "handle" like 9/11 about which to call it.


Oddly enough, with all the compassion floating around the Buddhist blogosphere, wouldn't you know that the first place I saw about how to financially help Japan came from Barry Ritholtz's financial blog.

In the USA, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 . . .

Further Update:

I really appreciate that lots of folks have called our house and asked about me; although most of the time I'm not in Japan, and as with getting  4 aces in poker on a single draw, the odds that a quake of this magnitude would happen and I'd be in Japan when it happens are pretty steep.

1 comment:

J said...

All of that said, I bought into the Japanese stock market as soon as I heard the news.

Yesss, mumonsan, the sound of one trend spiking--aka the zen of the long and the short.