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Monday, March 14, 2011

In The Wake of Japan Earthquake

Reading the PDI news on Japan's worst crisis since WWII caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake last Friday, I couldn't help crying.

A part of the news that wrenched my heart was the last that says: "What's important in life." A 24-year old mother was playing origami, the Japanese art of making things out of paper, with her three children - aged 2 to 6 - when the quake struck. She gathered her children and fled in the car to higher ground with her husband. She said, "My family, my children. We are lucky to be alive. I have come to realize what is important in life."

When disasters strike, you don't come calling the banks to ensure that your accounts are safe. You don't go rushing to your vault to get land titles, stash of cash, and pieces of jewelry. You gather your family and flee to safety. The family is the most important in life.

But every day, when life is good, when the sun is up and gives sun showers, when the breeze is cool, when the job gives back rewards, we take people for granted. Always things first before people. Me first before others.

Then suddenly we are put on the spot for one of life's defining moments. We are made to choose what is important and choices become irrelevant because we know exactly whom to hold, whom to save, whom to give our lives to.

We sit in conference rooms and attend meetings. We wrack our brains hard for strategies that would keep the business going - either by leading or by surviving. We analyze charts and figures, but never poetry or the leitmotif in a novel.

Then reality sends a mesage. Nations strive to make the economy the most progressive only to be confronted one day by the truth: there is one power bigger than all of us. The power of the Unknown. Had we known this life is indeed not ours. That this life should be made useful for the sake of others. That this life maybe taken away from us without a siren, then we would have been more caring, more considerate, more forgiving, more generous. Then we would have spent more time reading the classics or simply the beautiful. Then we would have spent more time walking barefoot on the sand or on the grass. Then we would have spent more time playing, running with the kids. Then we would have extended our hands to those with nothing. Then we would have spent more time watching movies and less of Youtube. Then we would have spent less time at the office and more at home. Time is the most precious and priceless gift all of us have been given, yet we misuse it by going after things which may be bought by money.

Why? It is because we have discovered other types of happiness. That which is expensive and time-sacrificing. We invented bullet trains to get to destinations fastest. We invented insanely high technology telecommunication facilities to defy space and time. We invented make-believe scenarios because we don't have time to try the real thing. We have softened the rough edges only to slip into its sleekness.

For the past several weeks now, nature and life have been sending us wake-up calls. How do we respond? I hope not in text, but in action.

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