WOW Word-Of-the-Week #346: Dignity

March 22, 2011 by  

Dignity – poise and self-respect.

Did you find the catastrophe that struck Japan last week beyond belief? Not only did they have a 9.0 earthquake, then a tsunami, and then potential multiple nuclear meltdowns. Can you even fathom what it would be like to experience that?

The LA Times ran a story titled, “A family odyssey through calamity” that featured a 55 year old doctor by the name of Kazuhisa Takeuchi. When the shaking had ended everything in his office was on the floor, but he was unharmed. He ran to check on his patients and they were okay too. He told himself, “We are so lucky.”

The article written by Barbara Demick goes on to read, “To describe the terrible cascade of disasters that began to hit Japan at 2:46 p.m. March 11, the Japanese have adopted a term they coined for the Sept. 11 attacks: douji tahatsu tero, which literally means ‘multiple simultaneous terrors.’

Takeuchi’s father and his wife’s mother and father were all elderly and hospitalized. All three perished within four days of the catastrophe. Trying to make philosophical sense of what happened he said, “That they should die under almost the same circumstances, I think that was not a coincidence. I think maybe in this crisis, the old people understood that the dying would have to die and the living would have to live.”

“We have to work through our fears.” Contemplating what his father might have advised him if he were alive Takeuchi said, “Have dignity. Never give up. Even in the face of douji tahatsu tero.

This week has me focusing once again on how fortunate I am at this moment. Would you be able to move forward in the face of such devastation? Would you be able to have a philosophical sense of what happened? Would you have dignity and never give up?

Reader Responses

“After learning what had happened in Japan, and then seeing the photos of the devastation, I wondered about where I would begin to pick up my life. Where would I start? I don’t know if the words poise and dignity would come to my mind in such a situation. I think the first word that would come to my mind would be survive. I would certainly first make sure that any and all family members were ok. Then I would look for a place for my family to stay until we knew what would happen next. I would be concerned or worried about any possessions that were lost. All I would want to know is that everyone survived. In those situations, I think our priorities are life, health, shelter and food. Probably in that order. When we had a fire in our home when I was 10 years old, we were scattered as a family during Christmas of 1968. It took a couple of months to get our house back together, but early in the new year we were back in our home. Fortunately, my folks had good insurance. That was a start. We did get our family back in one piece, but it was because we kept our priorities in place. During that time I never saw my parents panic. We had good friends who helped us through and we all came out on the other end in good shape. They did what they had to under tough circumstances. There were six of us kids at that time. I only hope that I can exhibit that kind of quiet dignity and poise in the event something happens to me. The people in Japan are amazing. How they have come together as a nation is inspiring. I remember how the people of New York City did so during 911. Sometimes it is catastrophes that bring out the greatness in all of us. Thank you, Susan. Great word. Great reminder.” – “Warrior” Joe