One of our students at Crossroads Bible College is Shion, a young lady from Japan. After the March tsunami devastated her homeland, we held a special chapel to pray for Japan. Shion put together a moving documentary explaining the earthly disaster in pictures. While the college is relieved that our student’s family is safe, we still ache for the unspeakable losses Japan has sustained. The You Tube images are jolting. For some who watch the homemade video from across the Pacific, the viewing is just too traumatic. Warnings that the images may be emotionally disturbing have been posted by psychologists online. But past trauma survivors created different kinds of warnings.
Tsunamis in Japan have left a historic impression on Japanese citizens for centuries. “Octopus Grounds” is a town in Japan named for the sea life washed up in years past by tsunamis. Some temples in the island nation are named for the powerful waves. And now the March, 2011 tsunami will be permanently imprinted in the digital archives of You Tube; an added visual disaster alarm. Jay Alabaster reported for the Associated Press this spring that earlier generations of Japanese have left stone markers as warnings. [Quote] “Do not build any homes below this point” or “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants” or “If an earthquake comes, beware of tsunamis.” or “Always be prepared for unexpected tsunamis” or “Choose life over your possessions and valuables.” [End Quotes] Markers such as these are etched in stone along the Japanese coastline; some as many as 600 years old.
Fumihiko Imamura, professor of disaster planning at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan commented on the markers. He said, [Quote] “It takes about three generations for people to forget. Those that experience the disaster themselves pass it to their children and their grandchildren, but then the memory fades. In the bustle of modern life, many forgot.” [End Quote] As an educator, I view my responsibility as making sure students do not forget. Indeed, I would agree with Neil Postman in his book Technopoly that every subject should be taught as history. You see, when they are young, students tend to think that the subjects they study are all new. Connections through time and place must be made between then and now. Young minds must see the interconnection of knowledge gained over time. A famous dictum amplifies this truth: we all stand on someone else’s shoulders. Professor Imamura’s comment reminds me of another well-known line: those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. May all the warning markers of history be etched in stone…and human memory.
For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
This blog will air in the summer of 2011 on Moody Radio.
 Jay Alabaster, “Ancient Advice Saved many from Tsunami,” Indianapolis Star 10 April 2011.