Friday, March 18, 2011

Cloaking Themselves in Honor

Amid all of the sorrow, and news attending the multivarious crises engulfing Japan, two stories welled Noman up with hope and respect.  The first depicted the kind of phenomena that can only happen in the most extraordinary of circumstance.  It seems that there has been an outpouring of sympathy and admiration for the Japanese from a most unlikely source, the Chinese.

This is somewhat like the McCoys finding sympathy and admiration for the Hatfields.  Resentment in China understandably lingers over Japan's occupation before and during WWII.  That notwithstanding, the calamity seems to have brought out the best in the Chinese as well as the Japanese.  "As human beings, we should have empathy for each other," said Woody Wang, an online news portal editor.  "[H]istory is history; the current reality is the current reality--we should separate the two."  Marveling at the Japanese people's ability to maintain order in chaos, Linda LingFei, a Chinese microblogger asked "How is it the Japanese can do this?"  Chinese premier Wen Jiabao offered "deep sympathy and solicitude to the Japanese government and the people."  China has additionally provided monetary aid, and shipped tons of needed gasoline and diesel fuel to Japan.   This is a far cry from the Chinese sentiments expressed towards the Japanese in the movie "Ip Man" (about Bruce Lee's teacher),  for instance: a prosaic karate movie made compelling by the dynamic overlay of political and racial drama.  It is largely set in occupied China.

Noman is once again moved by that human tendency to strip away all accidentals in a tragedy, and get to the essentials.  People are people, and as human beings, we should have empathy for each other.  That strikes Noman as beautiful, and reminds him of the response after 9/11.  He was in flight to deliver a paper at the Vatican when the planes struck the towers, and wasn't informed of the tragedy until arriving at his hotel.  Upon opening his internet, he found scores of messages from around the world in his inbox expressing sympathy, horror and even love for America.  Noman cried at the spontaneous outpouring of solidarity with his country, the first (and only) time in his life he'd experienced it.  He imagines that the Japanese might receive some small succor from the knowledge that, for the moment, after so many years of rancor, the Chinese are with them.

The second article was about the indomitable Japanese spirit, which when confronted by the nightmare of the present reality, responds with the cry "never give up."  Its conviction in a strong sense of shared purpose enables people to line up for food and needed supplies calmly and patiently, and not object when supplies run out.

By all accounts, they are an honorable people of duty, like the father who clutching his infant said "I have to protect my children." The Japanese are showing us something worth emulating, and that the world needs to see.  Noman concurs with the author, Howard Stringer, CEO and president of Sony Corp., in hoping that when the next day of trial comes to America, we may respond like the Japanese "with a national spirit of grace, generosity, and common cause that just never, never gives up.

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