A wave approaches Miyako City, via The Atlantic
Sri Lanka had it bad during the tsunami, but I think Japan may have it worse. In Sri Lanka, an earthquake thousands of miles away triggered a tsunami that raked the island’s shores. Over 35,000 of people died, but it was almost as much a human tragedy as a natural disaster. There was 12 hours between the earthquake and when the waves hit Sri Lanka. There were even hours between when it hit the east coast and wrapped around to the west. Something could have been done. In Japan they were as prepared and as engineered as could be. The combination of earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear disaster was just too much.
I was watching a video of the water rushing in from street level. When you think of water, it doesn’t seem dangerous. Of all the elements, it seems like the one we control, the most friendly, most pathetic even. Water seems forgiving, like it will catch you when you fall. But it’s not. Watching that video, you can see the water rise relentlessly, steadily destroying everything in its path. Water isn’t forgiving. It just doesn’t care.
For water being carried around in a cup or channeled through pipes isn’t humiliating. It’s just irrelevant. Looking at photos of containers and boats and cars tossed around like toys, it’s clear that the force of water just didn’t care. All our achievements, all our indulgences, they’re all built on the coast of chaos.