As my father might have put it, most of us aren’t studying comedy this week. “Troubled” would seem an apt description of the general mood, or maybe “dazed.” A lot of people, publicly and privately, have noted that response to the disaster in Japan has so far been different—less—than in the past. An article in USA Today does a good job of summarizing this discussion.
It’s only my opinion, but I think if one thing has made this disaster different, it is the figurative tsunami of events that is still sweeping over northern Japan. What would have been a week of attention paid to rescue and recovery, to images and descriptions of total destruction, has instead been a week of suspense. Could the fallout of a technological breakdown surpass that of the earthquake and tsunami that a week ago seemed the worst thing imaginable? We still don’t know. I think this is the biggest difference this time around.
I do not believe people would withhold donations, because they perceive Japan as a wealthy nation. I do believe both organizations and individuals perceive Japan as a highly functioning nation capable of taking the lead in its own recovery. Perhaps this does produce an attitude of “stand by to assist as asked” rather than the impulse to rush in directly as has been done in many lesser economies.
Of course, Japan does need help. There are many ways to give. We all can find them easily enough. If anyone has a favorite or has firsthand knowledge of a particularly efficient conduit, I hope you will mention it. We all should do what we can now, to help the unfortunate souls without adequate shelter and sustenance. However, this is going to be a long haul. The dust of this earthquake literally has not yet settled.