"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." ~Dalai Lama
A Japanese couple did not say good bye to each other on the morning of the Tsunami. Instead they arranged to meet later in the day after the husband finished one last detail of a project at the Town Hall. I don't know if they even kissed or hugged as he left for his day. That was the last time she saw him. Like thousands of other families whose loved ones are missing, the loss of everything material and emotional that has anchored them to their lives is incomprehensible.
Monumental loss that wipes away whole communities, whether from acts of nature or war cannot be truly understood when it is reported in numbers. Human life is a story; it is not a statistic. Reducing the loss to a count of casualties is a form of distancing. We can't really feel the pain of the numbers, but a single story of a woman who was waiting until after lunch to meet her husband, who is presumed to be washed away to sea- this we can feel.
Where there was once a small town, now people rummage looking for anything familiar. This same woman recently found an old photo of her son as a small boy in a stack of dirty papers. This is all that is left of her history. I try to imagine what kind of emotional resilience it would take to let go of your entire life. What kind of prayer could allow you to find the courage to rebuild and re-invent a new life after a loss that literally shakes you to the core.
What does compassion look like when we are faced with a loss too big to imagine. For the Japanese, it looks like no looting after the disaster and working together as a community to spread scarce resources fairly. Today, it looked like a generosity so big that it might just feel like a tidal wave of love for so many people lost to their own lives. The CEO of Softbank, Masayoshi Son, one of the largest providers of cellular service announced today that he will give $120 million dollars and his salary for the rest of his working life to Tsunami victims.
I am so grateful to be able to witness this huge act of generosity and compassion. It is what positivity looks like when life as we know it ends. Human kindness is the only road to be paving.