It made me think of the line from BTO’s classic hit, Taking Care of Business: “People pushing, people shoving and the girls trying to look pretty!”
A reported crowd of almost 300,000 assembled in downtown Cleveland for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebrations on an absolutely gorgeous March 17th. Admittedly, it was a fantastic day for the most part. But when Cleveland’s award winning rapid trains broke down, Tower City Mall and adjacent Public Square turned into a free-for-all of pushing, shoving and outright brawling.
Heaven help us if we ever experience a crisis near the same level they are dealing with in Japan today. Our trains break down for a few hours and people turn to violence, store owners barricade their shops and police are forced to use tasers and dogs to control the mob. Yet, in the aftermath of earthquakes, a tsunami and an on-going nuclear crisis, the people of Japan carry-on with self-dignity, mutual respect and a kind of social responsibility which is rare in America today.
I heard a woman on the news this morning complaining that there was a shortage of iodine tablets on the West Coast because America is sending our current supplies to Japan. “Why should we worry about them?” she whined. Never mind that radiation levels have not and are not likely to increase anywhere in America as a result of the catastrophe in Japan.
We seem somewhat surprised and especially curious that even in the face of utter chaos, we don’t hear stories of looters or riots or even crowd control issues coming out of Japan. Instead, we witness a kind of maturity that understands the simple truth: Whatever kind of trouble we are in, we are in it together.
On the Christian calendar, this is the second week in the season of Lent – a time of preparation and fasting. Maybe as part of our Lenten observances we might consider the practice of hospitality toward our fellow human being. We could begin by treating ourselves with self-respect and one another with kindness and understanding. Just imagine what a friendly city Cleveland might be if, instead of denigrating our humanity into an “every one for him or herself” kind of thinking, we simply greeted each other with a smile or nod, or perhaps even a “hello” as we passed by on our busy streets. Who knows, when the Big One hits, we might just be ready!