Unsung Heroes – Lessons from Japan

Saya and the meadal from her teacher

S. and the medal from her teacher

My friend L., her husband and three children live just outside Tokyo.  About two weeks before the tsunami and earthquake her family moved into the dream home they had designed and built over the course of several years. Since the tragedy, her Facebook updates from her phone have taken a reflective tone and offered consolation to her worried friends and family in the U.S.  We learned that they had to evacuate their neighborhood; they eventually moved back home; a conference call from their employers assured them of no nuclear threat in Tokyo; they weren’t sure about drinking the water; and she appreciates our prayers and messages of encouragement.

She gave me permission to share yesterday’s post, a photo of her daughter S. with a special award given by her teacher.  The ‘medal’, roughly translated, says: “S.-Always cheerful and bright. When I see happiness expressed in your face, it makes me happy too. Wishing you continued joy and happiness in second grade too.”  L. added: “Japanese teachers are pretty exceptional, and I am seeing so many examples of people acting exceptionally around the country.”

I found this commentary on the qualities valued in 6-year old S. so poignant.  Grace, beauty, and nobility are being demonstrated through the resilience of the Japanese people.  This is often found in small acts.   S.’s teacher went out of her way to express her appreciation for the child’s virtues like cheerfulness amidst trials.  Then L.’s comment of how exceptional Japanese teachers are just reinforces the spirit of cooperation and dignity permeating the nation in this time of crisis.

I wonder about the U.S., where teachers are being bashed by politicians, everyone second-guesses and blames them for all our kids’ problems, and trust has been stripped away.  How would we react in trying times?

Before a disaster strikes, we need to pull together to build appreciation and trust, so we have each other when we need each other.

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