Like most Americans and people around the world, the devastation in Japan is very heart-breaking to me, just as Haiti was. When natural disasters occur, it's natural to feel afraid and helpless. Unlike manmade disasters, there's honestly nothing that we can do to prevent these. I was worried about some people that I know there, but I've learned that they are all ok. Unfortunately this isn't the case for many people there. All we can do is support rescue and stabilization efforts, be a listening ear to those who are worried about family and friends there, and if able to (logistically, financially) go there to help.
Sometimes happy things inspire my art but pain/sadness does too. It took both to write a book and both affect my visual work so I know the feeling of having both areas of emotions churning inside me. I made this piece below early this morning because I couldn't sleep. I feel like my body is here but my heart is there. I hate seeing people suffer.
I'm really careful about how much media I consume of the disaster because with some networks it becomes disaster voyeurism more so than informing the public and helping others. I traveled to Japan four years ago and other than a little food poisoning, it was an interesting cultural experience. It's a beautiful country.
I'm thankful to all of the people who are trying to help in some way. It is important to distinguish between the three A’s: admiration, advocacy and activism. Admiration of a cause is fine, because supporting change can only begin with love (such as prayer) not hate, but admiration is not advocacy (generally informing others, teaching, sharing information, financial donations etc.) and advocacy is not activism (the front line people, ones involved in the meat and potatoes of all revolution or public help, time donations.). All three roles matter, but differ. Thus, I don't suggest that creating this piece (or using social media, or changing an avatar) will reduce the suffering of those there and those here worried. To even dare suggest so (as people do with other social causes) is insensitive and uninformed. It simply means that I am thinking of them, and hoping for peace in their hearts during this time of pain.
I saw this video yesterday. It is of young survivors of the earthquake in Haiti learning about the tragedy in Japan. It was moving to see these beautiful children express so much compassion for Japan despite the fact that they don't have anything themselves. Beautiful young hearts.
Links: Coping With Disaster or Traumatic Event (CDC), Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: 7 Simple Ways to Help, Google Crisis Response, Red Cross (donate to Japan)
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