Earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns and green beer? Today’s normal is quite abnormal in the big scheme of things…even for a St. Patrick’s Day.
In 2004, I was one of the millions of Central Floridians that lived through three back-to-back hurricanes – Charlie, Jean, and Francis – that wreaked a combined total of $45 billion in damages throughout the state. We all prepared, endured, and cleaned up after each hurricane, continuously complaining about our damaged property and plight. During that time, our “normal” included no electricity, downed trees, roof damages, and severe ice cravings.
To say the least, these hurricanes were an inconvenience as they took each of us experiencing them out of what we considered our own personal “normal.” However, unless you actually experience a disaster firsthand, you can only surmise the impact from media reports and personal accounts. But the true impact of a disaster is felt not only in the physical sense, but also in the mental sense, as the stress of dealing with its aftermath becomes your new “normal.”
Since March 11, we have all been shocked and saddened at the destruction that has occurred and continues to occur from multiple aftershocks and nuclear meltdowns within Japan. Most of us keep updated on the latest events on this disaster via Internet and TV reports as well as through personal contact with loved ones in Japan. But, unless we are actually living it, I do not believe we can truly comprehend the actual scope of this destruction. And how do I know this? From relating my experiences during the hurricanes to family and friends who didn’t seem to think that downed trees, no electricity, and lack of ice was that big of a deal. Why? Because they weren’t actually living our “normal.”
What I do know that we can comprehend from the many images of Japan’s destruction is that the Japanese are handling their new “normal” with grace and dignity not found in most cultures. There is no public outcry or panic in their faces and no reports of violence, thefts, or vandalism – even after six days following the initial event.
Perhaps it would behoove everyone celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day to lift a glass of green beer to the future of Japan and its people. And, instead of ordering that second round, send the money you would have spent on trying to momentarily escape your “normal” via alcohol to the Japan relief efforts in hopes their “normal” will return faster than expected.