Clevelanders Gone Wild! What Does Japan know that Cleveland Doesn’t?

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!

About Hot in Cleveland

Speaker, Civic Leader and Pastor of Cleveland's Historic and Renowned Old Stone Church on Public Square. To view Mark's publications, blog or book a speaking engagement, please visit
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5 Responses to Clevelanders Gone Wild! What Does Japan know that Cleveland Doesn’t?

  1. Carolyn says:

    Sorry to hear that there were problems in one of my favorite urban areas in the U.S.

    It seems that as we become more “connected” via social media we have become more narcissistic. Social MEdia is just that: an emphasis on ME, e.g. “Who responded to my Facebook post” or “text.” So, if we are more connected, why have we become less compassionate? Is it because caring for the other means shifting the social MEdia focus off of ourselves? Could we also be feeling the effects of a bottomed-out economy? Are we less understanding because we are shouldering financial burdens that have affected our emotional lives as well?

    Compassion and empathy have always been an intrinsic part of being human. Here’s hoping that, as the initial impact of social MEdia settles into something a little more routine and we become more savvy of its power to enrich lives, we remember to embrace each other symbolically and IRL (in real life).


  2. hotcleveland says:

    Carolyn: I love your play on words! ME-dia and IRL – perfect! Big difference between the self “centric” and the self “centered.” I like the idea of meet-ups. They keep us real, not to mention honest about our need for one another. Oh, the humanity. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  3. Mark C. says:

    Cleveland is a Mistake. Actually the People in it are. I am not here by choice. I live at a Homeless Shelter because I am unable to find a Job that makes ends meet. As far as Japan go’s… Remember Pearl Harbor Dec. 7th, 1941. We dropped Atom Bombs on them to make them surrender. Now a Tidal Wave hits them!! Ha Ha!! They’re Nuclear Reactors are blowing up, etc. etc.!! I was also at the St. Patty’s Day Parade, but was on the Cleveland Public Library’s Computer. I hate crowds. I am a loner, and prefer to be by myself. I liked the saying years ago, when they were trying to re-vitalise Cleveland and compare it to New York City, [The Big Apple] – [The Plum] and people twisted it into, CLEVELAND IS NOT A PLUM, ITS A SLUM, A PIT COVER UP!! That idea slowly fizzled and vanished. Like I said, it’s the people in Cleveland that are the problem, not the city itself. A perfect Mayor’s name should be ROB STEAL. Hang out on Public Square around 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday thru Friday. The kids will drive you crazy. They have Gang Squad Police, Cleveland Police, Mounted Police, Sheriff’s Deputies, etc. Just to keep the peace. This is just Children of the Cleveland Public Schools going home. Yes, I was raised in the Suburbs, and went to school in the 60’s and the early 70’s. We did not need a Police Escort everyday to go home everyday after school. We got on the School Bus and rode home. As far as Japan go’s, I know it’s UN-Christian Like of me to say so, but I’m laughing at them and Watch Godzilla Video’s on You Tube when ever I see a Japan News Story. All in all, Cleveland IS going to HELL in a handbag.
    Watch this Video and then think about Japan. >> I will probably get negative comments about the way I feel, but ‘ya gotta roll with the punches.
    Mark C.

  4. Carrie Wilbee says:

    I believe the idea of ‘thinking of others’ starts at what we learn at home. Mazlynne came up to us the other day and decided she wanted to donate her piggy bank to ‘poor countries’. I took the opportunity to set up a meeting for her with Red Cross and let the ideas flow from there. She has decided to have a garage sale and donate all of the proceeds from it and a lemonade stand to Japan – I have asked her teacher if she can bring in a poster board she prepared to talk about the devastation in Japan and what the garage sale can do for them.
    She was upset to find out she had to be 15 to join the Red Cross youth group and has now decided to set up her own youth group for kids her age called ‘let’s make a difference’ – God is working through her and with the proper tools maybe just maybe one child here, and another child there, can instill a ‘let’s think of others instead of ourselves’ mentality in those around them …

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