the "unbridgeable" gap

October 5, 2011
By Motomo6 BRONZE, Perth, Other
Motomo6 BRONZE, Perth, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

4 hours after the earthquake, I remember huddling with my friends in front of the T.V. eyes glued to the number at the corner of the screen. There was an eerie silence that even the walls of my house could not shun out. It really felt like suddenly, over bustling busy Tokyo, an invisible mist had fallen, and you could just feel the questions in the air. Why? What had happened? What happens now? Are my loved ones alright?

We continued to watch the number as it hit 500, then 1,000 when my mom finally called us to the table for supper. She firmly switched the television off, and over our meal we all assured each other that our families were fine, and things would go back to normal. The trains would start running again and my friends would be able to make it back home. It was as if by avoiding that number, we could minimize the number of victims killed in the tsunami, and therefore the number would stop rising.. then we could return back to our normal lives again, unmoved.

Over the next few days some of the international support nearly moved me to tears. Some of my friends were secretly intense Lady Gaga fans, and they were greatly cheered on by her public call to support Japan. But as the radiation fear crept over every family that same silence washed over Tokyo again and it was back to the questions. What happens now?

And the questions remain, now, nearly 7 months after the earthquake with no hint of an answer. Sometime in between those 7 months, we thought the questions were a sign of fear and so we stopped asking the questions. The government interpreted it as ‘discontent’ and has been assuring us that our lives are back to normal, our fears are irrational, and that they have everything under control.. as if the natural disaster had never really happened at all. But the questions returned to me time and time again when there was another nuclear plant mishandling, or a news update, anything that reminded me of 3/11.

During the summer, with an opportunity to go and work in the disaster area I got to hear a lot of different experiences of many different people. I heard the phrase “the unbridgeable gap” a lot. It was always used to describe the gap between the victims and those people like us that arrived on scene to try and help out.. the gap between those that had experienced the tsunami and those that hadn’t. But despite the word “unbridgeable” placed in front of the word “gap” I knew the gap had to be closed. I understood then that as much as the questions were clear back in Tokyo, where the natural disaster damage was far from the worst, the answers was not there but here, among the victims that were desperately trying to hold on to something, 7 months later.

These victims had lost family and livelihoods.. their view on life had been switched around 180 degrees within the short span of one afternoon, mid- March. Yet, as they willingly shared their experiences with me, I felt pure strength, a voice that could connect with millions of hearts over Japan, and all over the world. And this was stronger than any political voice trying to calm us down. The strength came from their willingness as they shared their experience in a want to understand more, to somehow get things moving in the area where people were still in need of physical donations -to get things moving in a way that helped not only themselves but the people around them in a hope that some how society would rebuild again. I think we need to remember them and listen to them to bridge this gap. The government and the large cities are moving on trying to ignore the questions, trying to solve the issues technically. Those of us that are asking the questions are becoming comfortable enough to ignore them. Its not a time to get technical, its a time to think and listen and use the opinion of those that actually need the help and truly understand the core issues. They understand what it feels like to have things taken away in a moment’s time, and they know how valuable human life is. A society built on voices like that would bring change. The whole of Japan was moved into eagerness to try and help these victims after 3/11. Now, to do that, we need to help them help themselves by listening to their voice and bridging the gap. And maybe someday there will come a time when the major mover of society is not money but people.

The author's comments:
Its really hard trying to even understand whats going on in society because all the adults are so "mature" and different, they seem to know everything! It was a great experience for me to just get to be in the area and listen, trying to absorb everything. I felt like listening to the victims in an issue is something that is being ignored all over the world and something that all readers could connect with an issue they know about. May it be the starvation in Africa or the conflicts in the Middle East or maybe just issues in your neighborhood of increasing teenage crime etc.

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