The earthquake and tsunami in Japan occurred on Friday. Three days later and I’m still trying to process the whole thing.
The craziest part is I’m trying to understand my emotions in relation to the whole event. For some odd reason the way I’ve been dealing with the event is in a compartmentalizing sort of way. To break it into chunks, one chunk deals with my level of compassion… the devastation these people must be experiencing, the horror, the panic, the loss, the struggle. All very natural, understandable, and human responses.
So why am I not in a state of depression? Why am I not emotionally buried under the flotsam and jetsam of the aftermath? Is the prerequisite symptom of compassion to weep continuously, paralyzed by my grief for their misfortune? At what line do I draw at what is an appropriate response? What if I were in that same situation? Would I want tears? Would I want people to feel sorry for me? Would I want people to hold their chins up and merely extend a helping hand, or to try to help me take my mind off the chaos?
The next chunk deals with the media coverage of the catastrophe. Or tries to figure out how to deal with the media coverage. I do not want to be a lookie-lou standing on the side of the road watching the fallout. I do not want to stay fixated to images of suffering and grief and destruction simply so I can gasp and point at the tv, then go pick up my tall soy half-decaf hazelnut latte and scone and whisper about it at my table with my associates like gossip at a corner store. “Did you hear about so-and-so? Can you believe it?” Slurp.
I hear two voices in my head regarding my complicity in the media coverage. The first is my mother’s voice, telling me how it is important to be informed of the world in which we live. The other is the voice of something of which I cannot pinpoint its origin, that tells me that any news I absolutely need to hear will find its way to me.
Eschewing the coverage is nearly futile at this stage. That will recede long after the tsunami waters do as long as the struggle holds fascination to us here on the other side of the world. I can gather enough information to determine how much good thoughts I can keep for those affected by this natural disaster. I can determine what way I can help, be it financially or hands-on in some capacity. Then at what point does it cross from being informed to being entertained?
And the biggest part of all this is trying to keep my minister from making a big show. From taking the pulpit and prosthelytizing against the evils of media gawking, of feeding the machine of 24/7 news coverage, of being unable to pull oneself away from the media maelstrom. Whenever I feel I need to hold back my minister in a half nelson from reaching the podium I know its a result of trying to find a way of dealing with something but not being able to see it. I don’t completely know how to deal with this whole thing so I want to tell everyone else how they should be dealing with it.
We give carte blanche to people grieving the loss of a loved one. We say that there is a period of time where most behavior and responses are okay for the individual going through grief, that everyone needs to grieve in their own way. Perhaps this needs to apply to how we grieve these events we witnessed over the weekend. Perhaps we will all deal with it in our own way, and that it is okay for each of us to choose how we do so. And I need to include myself in that. I suppose for now I will wander through this emotional debris until I find just where to begin.