Why You Shouldn’t See the Japanese Earthquake as a Hollywood Disaster Movie Set

Japan Earthquake

A week ago life changed forever for the people of Japan.

Unless you have been living in a monastery, by now you will heard of the earthquake which hit the region around Japan. The subsequent Tsunami and nuclear power fallout has meant that the world will never be the same again.

What we are seeing is a human tragedy on such a vast scale, it’s beyond our comprehension. The earthquake happened in an instant and not even an economic superpower can withstand this force of nature.

The blanket media coverage of this catastrophe has been relentless – it’s almost as if we are all drawn to tragedy and suffering.

Some of the videos of the massive Tsunami waves have been quite horrific, yet spectacular and somehow hard to stop watching.

Newspapers have also had such graphic images of all the death and destruction, the danger is that we can all switch off and not really take in the scale and immensity of what’s happening in the world today, not only in Japan but also places like Libya and Bahrain.

The massive coverage got to a point earlier this week when I felt I just had to get away from all media and take some time out. Your psyche can only take so much grief and suffering.

The danger of blanket coverage of such natural disasters is this – we become hardened and we get compassion fatigue.

The thing is this – we feel so powerless amidst such suffering. And the more we watch, the more closed off and harder we can become to all this suffering.

So next time you watch a report about the earthquake, just remember – this is real life and not the set of a Hollywood movie.

These are real people and not actors whose lives have been devastated and who have suffered terrible losses of loved ones, possessions and livelihoods.

Remember that life will never be the same again for them, whereas most of us will continue our lives as before.

Coverage of such events calls for being sensitive and allowing the affected people space and time to grieve over their losses.

I felt that some of the coverage could have been more been sensitive. Yes, journalists and media people are doing their job, but how about bringing more humanness in to their reporting?

So here is the take away from this post – do what you can in your own way to alleviate the suffering of the affected people. For instance, this could be donating through one of the many major charities, contributing some goods and if nothing else just sending positive thoughts.

The last thing you want to do is become down and upset about something you had no control over.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is to continue to live your life fully. The speed and scale of this tragedy is a reminder to all of us to make the most of each day.

So live your life fully each day and make a difference in the world in your own way. Just continue to be kind and loving towards those people around you – and no matter what happens, you will know that you have done your best.

And never ever become immune to showing compassion to others.

Your life can be like a movie – but just know that right now, Japan is not a Hollywood set.

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Image courtesy of Official U.S. Navy Imagery

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  1. Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker says

    The double-edge sword of life means we can experience amazing happiness and then the next moment feel the pain of an unexpected crisis.

    So, yes, we do need to live richly, thoughtfully and fully. There’s no day but today to give our hearts to.


  2. Hi Arvind,
    Because I live on a boat with my children in an area that needed to be evacuated due to tsunami warning, I received many updates from friends about the destruction in Japan. I did not plug into the media coverage..a personal choice..I did not need to view news reels to Feel compassion for and toward All people involved in this global crisis.
    As One, that is you and I on the beach searching for our loved one, you and I who lost our home, you and I facing unknown..As One, it is also you and I from the comfort of our physical space here that may send healing thoughts, prayers, monetary donations..who may empower those around us to unplug from “less than” and plug into “more than”…to embrace our spiritual beliefs and love of nature..and to allow those beliefs, that love..to guide our choices as we stand together and rebuild and heal…
    I think hype is directed toward your mind and adds to Fear, which paralyzes many; when we turn away from hype we may access our heart space/Faith..which propels us forward in unity…
    Thank you, Arvind..because you are right, it is not a movie set, it is more real than most people can fathom..

    • Joy, thanks for so eloquently suming up hype versus heart.

      Hype is indeed about fear whilst heart is about love, faith and a belief in humanity’s noble virtues.

      Glad is well with you and Tsunami didn’ directly impact you and your children.

  3. Tania Tyler | Whole Living Today says

    Although I feel that it is important to be aware of what is happening around the world, it is also important to know when to detach from the media. As someone in the healing arts, I feel it is vital that we don’t let our energies take on the despair and fear that can come about during tragedies. We become “victims” of the disaster ourselves if we go in that direction. Worry and fear doesn’t help anyone but is very detrimental. If we can, we can help with donations or volunteering but I feel the best way of being compassionate and healing is to keep our own vibrations or energy as upbeat and positive as possible. This is a great way to offset some of the fear that is circulating.

    Peace & Blessings,

    • Tania, welcome to my blog and thanks for sharing your insights.

      Great advice from you – best way of helping and of being compassionate and healing is to keep our own vibrations as high as possible. Counter fea with love:-)

      I used to get frustrated with my late father who would watch the news all day long despite most of the news stories being the same for a few hours.

      I have since learnt to detach more and don’t even have a tv now. Next step for me is to detach from online news…

  4. Words have failed me as I have been unable to describe my feelings. But, I do feel so much for the Japanese. It is so heart-breaking. I also had to stop watching as I was becoming numb to the images…too much to try to comprehend. Hurts my head and heart.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Very beautifully said, Arvind. Living meaningful and striving to make a positive difference is the best way we can honor those who are suffering, in addition to offering practice, physical support. Thanks for this reminder not to numb out.

  6. Hi Arvind,
    This is the first time I’ve chosen not to watch it all unfold on TV. I’ve decided to volunteer at a local food bank. And didn’t Mother Teresa say something about “go home and smile at the people you live with.” So I’m smiling more at hubs!

    • Tess, good on you for ignoring all the unfolding “drama” on TV.

      And great that you are smiling at hubby! It’s so true that we often wish to make a huge impact in the world at large, but we are horrible to the people closest to us and the ones that matter to us the most.

  7. Compassion burn out. Hard to avoid when faced with such overwhelming tragedy that we can’t prevent or fix. Your wise words help so much. Even holding the suffering in our hearts with compassion–for ourselves as well as others–helps to heal the energy. Thank you!

    • Galen, indeed. Hard to avoid compassion fatigue when we are constantly bombarded with all these images of all these overwhelming tragedies.

      Best to just send out healing thoughts to thsoe far away, and to practically help those in our vicinity. And of course really be kind and loving to those family and friends who mean so much to us.

  8. Your blogs are always so motivating including this one. It is not a new thing for Japan to have an earthquake every now and then but the way they handle it everytime is simply commendable. Got a mail recently where the difference between Japan and India was assumed when there is an earthquake. Including the way people handle the trauma and the media blows it out of proportion by showing screaming women and kids in pain. Kudos to the Japanese and May God pay off their effort to rebuild a self suatinaing nation again.

    • Aditya, kudos indeed to the Japanese people for the way they have handled it. They are a very resilient people with a lot of dignity and courage.

      Indians are the same, even though we may just have a different (not wrong) way of showing our emotions.

      At the end of the day, we are all people with the same dreams and challenges:-)

  9. This ad covers the same points. very powerful



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