Praise to Ode Magazine, that bylines itself as “The online community for intelligent optimists.” to me, a very hard niche to carve out and hold interest. So many of us intuit the need for media reform, but many, including me, I’m afraid persist as “non-reformers” in my impulses, habits, and consumption.
For this reason the efforts of Ode caught my interest. I find (at least so far) that it works, that constructive reflection and reportage is entirely possible as a viable and important source of news and information.
Excellent examples are two recent articles from Sendai, ground zero for Japan’s humanitarian disaster, our own humanitarian disaster. Both articles communicate with richness, simplicity, yet profundity, the essential good in human nature, and even in the ability for that goodness to take root in larger social groupings and organization.
The first article is called “A letter from Sendai,” written and submitted in the early phases of the earthquake-and-tsunami aftermath. The contributor describes the surge of good arising spontaneously in response to the disaster,
I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
It’s amazing that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.
The entire article is here.
The second article entitled “Deciding to stay in Sendai,” brings the reasder through the internal debate faced by a US citizen facing the option to accept US offers to evacuate its own citizens.
Several family members and almost all of my foreign friends strongly urged me to accept this option. [Namely evacuate according to the plan the US had in place.] “The chance may not come again.” “The situation is very, very critical.” “You should leave.” “You will be helping the country if you leave.” “You can always stay with me.” “You can always go back when this is over.”
After eating breakfast, I raced over to my wobbly shack to call a very close American friend in the USA to talk and process this. I also wanted to check emails once more. En route a deep calm came over me and I sensed I was not going to leave. My American friend agreed entirely. He had been through war and knew what mass hysteria involved. “Wait until this madness is over. Then make a calm decision,” he advised. “The situation seems black or white now, but maybe it is not.”
Talking to him, I realized I was not going to jump into the tidal wave of fear and panic that was literally sweeping the entire world. I did not want to add to that kind of energy. Whether I was right or wrong, lived or died, I knew that I wanted to be part of something that was more constructive towards life itself and the world as a whole.
We are physical beings, of course, but there are other dimensions of our humanity as well. And for me at this time I feel ready to work out of another level of my being.
Please read this whole, engaging article here.
It is hard work to battle deeply entrenched media and human habits that, even without malice, plays to the lower impulses of fear and prurient preoccupations. But it is vital that we do engage this challenge. I offer my most sincere encouragement to Ode, and other like minded media.