A small, unstable world


I am sure much will be said about the situation in Japan, but it really is one of those times when words falter. The horror is so obvious. So, I hope you won’t think I am being callous if I begin with a piece of trivia, which is not trivial at all as it happens. Japan sits on the edge of the North American tectonic plate. I did not know that before this weekend. It was interaction between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate that caused last week’s earthquake. In fact, Japan sits at the confluence of no less than four plates, which makes it so seismically active.

Obviously, most of you reading this are sitting squarely on the North American Plate. However, the plate also loops around the northern Pacific Ocean and tails off along the Aleutian Islands, encompassing the northern half of Japan at its extreme. It is not, then, simply shared humanity that makes the Japanese people seem as neighbors in this crisis. They are neighbors in a stricter sense, as well. Our thoughts are with them.