A little more than 24 hours ago, an unimaginable 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan, unleashing a series of powerful tsunamis that have engulfed entire towns along the eastern coast of this island nation. By morning, early reports indicate that hundreds are dead, hundreds more are missing, tens of thousands are displaced, and millions are still without basic services.
I reflect on the current situation from my vantage point in Tokyo, some 230 miles southwest of the epicenter of Friday’s main quake. I reflect on how lucky I am to be safe and secure and to be able to resume some semblance of a normal routine. I also reflect on my sadness at how so many others in nearby towns cannot say the same thing.
In the face of nature’s destructive force, we are easily reminded of our individual frailties, but we are also reminded of the power of collective action. Nature’s destruction does not discriminate based on who or where we are, or whether the country we are in is developed, developing, or underdeveloped. Recent aftermaths of devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and New Zealand provide small and large examples of how collective action, where employed, can make all the difference in the world when going up against shared challenges.
I know that as the world comes together in the days to follow to offer social, financial, material, or spiritual aid to Japan, we will see first-hand the virtues of collective action and collaboration come into play—virtues we must all take back to our corners of the world and promote in our work, in our lives, and in our hearts.
I have always known the Japanese to be a resilient and resourceful people, and I deeply appreciate their hospitality as a visitor even in the midst of this horrific disaster. BSR has many friends in Japan, and we hope that they and their colleagues are safe and with their close ones. We also mourn for those whom we do not know personally, but who have lost their friends, families, and homes in the northeastern regions of Japan.