THOUGHT FOR THE DAY BBC RADIO 4 14-3-11
Author: Dr Indarjit Singh
Television pictures of the destruction wrought by Japanís most devastating earthquake in a hundred years, confirm the worst estimates of damage and loss of life. To add to the suffering, this morningís news of a second explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant adds to poignant fears of dangerous radiation levels from damaged nuclear reactors. Japan, more than any other country knows the harm such leaks can cause to life and limb even in unborn children.
When such disasters strike they arouse rouse predictable emotional reactions. There is huge sympathy for those suffering the loss of their near and dear ones and for the loss of homes and possessions, and concern for those still trapped in the rubble, and a general feeling of helplessness .There is also our human desire to blame someone. There will be questions on the design and siteing of nuclear power stations although Japan is probably more safety conscious than most countries.
The thrust of Sikh teachings is to move us away from pointless speculation and debate about causes, to active concern for consequences.
This was demonstrated when the eighth Guru, Guru Harkishan went to Delhi to give aid and comfort to those suffering in a severe smallpox epidemic when others were fleeing the city. His courage and compassion eventually cost him his life.
Although we can do much to reduce suffering in natural disasters, we also have to accept nature as it exists in all its incredible beauty and occasional terrifying unpredictability. The people of Japan knowing that they live in a region prone to earthquakes have done just this. Regular earthquake training given to children and the development of calm and orderly evacuation procedures, have, Iím sure, helped save many lives.
Sikh teachings in respect of response to both natural disasters and man made suffering, remind me of a verse by the poet Adam Gordon:
Question not, but live and labour
Till your goal be won
Helping every needy neighbour
Seeking help from none
Life is mostly froth and bubble
But two things stand out like stone
Kindness in anotherís troubles; courage in your own.
In the spirit of the sentiment behind this verse, it is encouraging to learn that Britain and other countries, including New Zealand, still reeling from its own recent earthquake, are sending trained rescue teams .The people of Japan are showing tremendous courage and resilience and deserve all the help and assistance a stunned and watching world can give.