Mightier than an earthquake

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Mightier than an earthquake

The entire world is shocked by the cataclysmic earthquake that hit Japan last week. First of all, the world is astounded by the immense damage the quake has inflicted on the country. At least 2,000 people are already dead and more than 10,000 are still missing. The meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture has also raised serious concerns around the world.

But the Japanese government has successfully evacuated about 210,000 residents in the area near the nuclear power plant and taken emergency measures to cool the overly heated reactor, which will help them avert a much bigger tragedy.

More surprising, however, is the way the Japanese are coping with the colossal disaster, as they do not appear to be shaken, even by the fear of death. Japanese citizens escaped from the shattered area carefully guided by professional evacuation staff. Even the stopped bus and subway system couldn’t dampen their will to survive the calamity as they walked for hours to reach their homes. And the next morning, people went to work as if nothing had happened the day before.

The world has often witnessed indescribable confusion and disorder following natural disasters in other countries. Some pundits even say that the looting and violence that arises after a disaster are scarier than the disaster itself.

But this was not the case in Japan. The Japanese people’s calm and orderly reaction to the unexpected crisis is fully deserving of our compliments as well as our envy. Television broadcasts around the world showed hardly any images of crying or screaming Japanese. In the face of nature’s fury, each survivor patiently waited in line to receive emergency food.

The Japanese people’s response to the calamity is not only explained by architectural designs meant to guard against such disasters. Disaster education and constant evacuation drills were major factors in their response. It shows that a great nation proves its character only when faced with an apocalypse.

The scenes from Japan naturally remind us of our own equally disgraceful response to tragedy - crowds wailing loudly whenever disaster has occurred. Even when flights are temporarily delayed, we stampede to the airlines to complain about it in chorus. And whenever a mishap takes place, we prefer to blame the government.

We hope the Japanese people’s reaction will teach us a lesson. We still have a lot to learn from Japan and a long way to go before we become a mature, developed country.

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