A priest friend of mine in China sent me the following. The authorship was listed simply as “Sunita.” I thought it was quite remarkable, especially when compared to what we usually see in the United States in times of natural disaster.
- THE CALM – Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
- THE DIGNITY – Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
- THE ABILITY – The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
- THE GRACE – People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
- THE ORDER – No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
- THE SACRIFICE – Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
- THE TENDERNESS – Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
- THE TRAINING – The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
- THE MEDIA – They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No sensationalizing. Only calm reportage.
- THE CONSCIENCE – When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly
It seems that this kind of response in the face of disaster is a prime example of being our brother’s keeper, without the negative connotations of socialism that are often attached to suggestions of our Christian duty to others. Although I consider myself a conservative, I think this is one area where the neo- or radical conservatives have gotten it wrong. Care and compassion for our fellow men through sacrifice and a developed civic responsibility would be a good lesson for our current society.