Sunday, March 20, 2011

Victims of Fear

I've been in Osaka for 3 days now. I like to pretend to myself that I came here for a holiday but the reality is I came here because I was scared. Maybe that sounds like a contradiction because I've been advocating how safe Tokyo is from the start but... If I'm to be truly honest, while the rational me believes Tokyo is safe, the conflicting news reports, concern from my family and friends and the never ending quakes really started to get to me. My nerves were shot and I needed a break.

Things here in Osaka have been fine. It wasn't until I started thinking about returning to Tokyo that I realized just how stressed the whole situation had made me. My neck and shoulders immediately tightened, my stomach clenched and I felt like I would be physically sick.

I don't think I've had a panic attack before but I get the feeling that might be what I was experiencing.

It's stupid. I've read all the articles, I've watched the news, I'm a rational and logical person. There is no reason to be scared. Well, ok, let me rephrase that - there is no immediate call to be concerned, yet the very thought of getting back on that bus filled me with dread. I couldn't breathe or swallow, I started to sweat and the pit of my stomach turned to acid.

Stupid stupid stupid.

Of course talking to my father didn't help much. He's been extremely worried since this whole thing began. When he called in last night with reports of what he'd seen on the news, of how lacking in confidence the Japanese Prime Minister was and his own concerns that I shouldn't return to Tokyo just yet my system went into shut down. I was back in that place I was days ago when I was a terrified mess, not knowing what I should do.

Once again my Japanese friends were a great help. As the news unfolded during the night they sent me updates, assuring me that the situation in Fukushima was beginning to cool down, that I had no reason to be so worried.

And of course they are right. I've always prided myself on my ability to be rational and logical in any situation. Now I know that's not always the case.

Still, for the sake of my nerves and the peace-of-mind of my family I've decided to stay in Osaka another night or two. I WILL go back to Tokyo though and I WILL NOT let my fear control me.

That's perhaps been one of the worst things to come from this whole incident. The rumors, the scare mongering and the uncertainty have all lead to widespread and irrational fear. Not just fear on a local level (which is understandable) but an international level. People the world over are afraid, many with no good cause.

The terrible side affect of this fear of course is that so many people have been focusing on the possibilities of a nuclear catastrophe (which in turn generates more fear) and are completely overlooking the real victims of this disaster - the people living in Sendai and Iwate who have already lost so much and are losing more every day.

The world news focuses on nuclear doom but instead they should be focusing on the thousands of people suffering the most horrific conditions just a couple of hours north of Tokyo.

As of now, today, I refuse to succumb to my fears. I owe the real victims of this disaster that much.

We all owe them that much.


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