Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My own international reality

I have not posted in over a year due to personal conflicts regarding the Kashmir issue, and the retribution that the state of India has laid on me due to my work of attempting to mediate the conflict. That being said, the events taking place in Japan touch my home in the most personal of ways.

My wife is from Tokyo. Her mothers family is from the area of Iwagi in Iwate Prefecture. It was believed up until last night that she had lost her grandmother who is 93 yrs. old and suffering severely from alzheimer's disease. She was found alive with other elderly that someone had the ability to get them out of the tsunami area. Her family has owned the rice fields for centuries as part of their samurai legacy. That is all gone now. The fields were destroyed, and the farmers who raised some of the best rice in Japan were washed away along with it. Her aunts, uncles and cousins who lived there narrowly escaped the tsunami and made it to higher ground, but everything they had is now gone as well. Oddly enough, the ancestral home stands exactly where the tsunami stopped. Knowing the history of tsunami's in the area my wife said it's no surprise that the home was built in the one area that was considered to be "safe". However, it was with a heavy heart that many of my wifes childhood memories of going to Ohama Beach as a child were lost in the rushing wave of destruction. We are glad that they are now safe from the tsunami, but the new reality with regards to the four reactors added a whole new dimension (during writing a 6.2 earthquake has occurred close to Mt. Fuji, which is a whole different fear.

My wife and I are planning on leaving for Tokyo on Friday. This trip was planned more than six weeks ago, so this was not a spur of the moment rash decision on our part. That being said, we want to be with her family. We understand the risks that come with going to the area, both from the nuclear meltdown possibility and the possibility of another major quake. We have spoken with her parents and they are not of too much concern given the reports that they are receiving. They live in the town of Hachioji which is a suburb in the Northwest section of Tokyo. There are rolling blackouts from 6pm to 10pm currently, and will more than likely be the same when we arrive on Saturday.

I know that many of you more than likely do not agree with the idea of heading to an area where so many issues are taking place. This is who we are and how we feel about our loved ones who are caught in the madness. If we in anyway believed we would be a burden or in the way, we would not go. I am experienced in disaster relief and coordination, especially regarding earthquakes, due to my involvement in the coordination of relief efforts in the Kashmir earthquake of 2005 .

We stand with our family and our people. I do consider myself to be one of the them. I have lived among the Japanese. I speak their language, I relish living in their cultural necessity of humbleness and calm, and have looked upon them with admiration and respect long before this tragedy occurred. Their strength and ability to adapt are on full display for the world to see and I hope that all of you following the events are taking notice as well. Their honor, perseverance and rational are qualities that all of us should aspire to attain. Lord knows the country that I hail from has put on full display for the world the opposite when a tragedy occurs. I will continue to update on the tragedy, as well as other events.

In closing, it is amazing how such a tragedy can bring someone back to the world that I had decided to leave. Not just Kashmir mind you, I was a Northeast Asian specialist long before my involvement in the Kashmir dispute. However, a renewed sense of purpose in this world has reemerged and I hope that anyone who feels they are lost can look to the most downtrodden and desperate and realize that we all must strive to full fill our destiny within this world to make it better.


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