>Why Is There No Looting In Japan? Important article

>Please Donate For Japan EarthquakeImage by waprojecty via Flickr

Anyone who has been watching the news out of Japan has had to ask themselves that basic question:  “Why is there no looting?”  After all, remember what happened in the good old USA after Katrina?  We had looting and shooting and raiding hospitals and carjackings and…   It was ugly.  Contrast this to the orderly lines we see in Japan.  What’s going on here?  Why aren’t people “looking out for number one?”

With a hat tip to Allan Bevere, I read this really important article (I think) by Elizabeth Stewart of Deseret News.  I have excerpts below.  Here’s the link to the full article.  But it gets at issues of alienation and community and culture–not unimportant concepts for the church.

News organizations around the world are chattering on about the remarkable order with which the Japanese have responded to the disaster.

“Three days after a magnitude-9 killer quake devastated Japan, triggering Pacific-wide tsunamis and a likely nuclear plant meltdown and then consigning millions of Japanese to darkness, thirst and hunger in the wintry cold, I still have yet to read reports of widespread looting,” wrote Frederico D. Pascual Jr. of The Philippine Star. “This Filipino watching 3,200 kilometers from Ground Zero finds this disciplined behavior of a huge population in distress awe-inspiring. Let us pray that they stay that way — and that we learn from them.”

Gregory Pflugfelder, director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University, told CNN he believes the phenomenon has its roots in Japanese culture. He said the Japanese feel responsible “first and foremost” to the community.

“Looting simply does not take place in Japan,” Pflugfelder said. “I’m not even sure if there’s a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear ‘looting.’ ”  …

Merry White, an anthropology professor at Boston University who studies Japanese culture, told CNN that she attributes the looting and disorder that is traditionally associated with natural disasters to social alienation and culture gaps.

“There IS some alienation and indeed some class gaps in Japan, too, but violence, and taking what belongs to others, are simply not culturally approved or supported,” White said in an e-mail.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what this means for culture–theirs and ours.

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>A Prayer for Japan

>Earthquake and Tsunami near Sendai, JapanImage by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via FlickrI find this prayer interesting…not because I disagree with it but because it’s just not the way I talk or write. 

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures’ pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

(This is from John Piper and Desiring God)

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