Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hanshin Earthquake

The Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra was formed in 2005 by the Hyogo Prefectural government as a symbol of hope for the region after the devastating Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.    Governmental ceremony.  What does it say?  What is it's significance?  We visited the Disaster Relief Center today.  Videos and displays and accounts from survivors.  So many lives lost, so much suffering.  And it's terrifying to think that it can happen so suddenly without much warning.

And so many volunteers came from around the country to help.  Japan designated the day "Distaster Prevention and Volunteerism Day" as well as the week surrounding it.  The government quickly turned attention away from the poor infrastructure of the city, the slow response, and the initial denial of foreign aid, to the incredible spirit of the volunteers that came to help.  The recovery of those who lost seems to have been the result not of personal discovery and mending, but of a community whose people lifted one another up from the rubble.

I think there is a lot for me to learn from this.  In my life, I've appreciated the embrace and the support of those around me, but mending has always been something personal.  As an individual, I have not been mended on the clock of another or of a community.  But the lesson of mutual support and community revival is woven into the accounts of the earthquake's aftermath.  I think there is something to learn from an island that has risen from terrible years of war, tsunamis, earthquakes, and typhoons.  They are always awaiting disaster and rely on one another to help put the pieces back together.

It's hard to learn about this sort of suffering and easy to see that the government wants the community to have faith in the future.  And we are here to be a part of that.  I'm here as a gift to raise the spirit of the individuals of a community.  Or of the community as a whole.  It's a concept that I don't entirely understand, having only been uplifted on my own terms in the past.  Yet I understand the humanity behind it, and the peace that music can bring to a suffering heart, even if it is only a distraction from memories and worry.  It's a privilege to explore this gift that the government has given to its people.  It's a privilege to be able to play in this space.

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