Monday, March 14, 2011

Just One Daughter

You may be just someone in the world, but you are the world to someone.
~ Anonymous

The scenes from Japan following the earthquakes and tsunami are all terrible, but it’s hard to conceptualize such devastation. The sheer vastness of the disaster overwhelms our comprehension.

Of the hundreds of images I’ve seen, the entire tragedy can be compressed into this one photo of two parents looking at the body of their daughter inside a mangled car. No matter how many pictures I see of fires raging through cities, smoke billowing from nuclear plants, piles of twisted debris, or cargo bins scattered like broken Legos, I come back to this one photo of a family in ruins.

The mother is crouching and reaching into the wreckage towards her dead daughter; the father is standing back a bit, arms slack at his sides, as though trying to absorb the shock of his loss and the fact that he is unable to help. This picture tells one family’s story. These bereft parents represent untold thousands of personal tragedies that are unfolding across Japan.

Devastation can strike any country at any time. In our busy and comfortable lives, we can easily forget that we are mortal. For now, it is Japan’s turn to remind us.