Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Fleeing" Tokyo

I have been following developments in Japan via my wife's twitter account; it has been an excellent source of information.

However, there have been some tweets, mostly dismissive or scornful, about people who are "fleeing Tokyo," as if they are being panicky, thoughtless, or cowardly.

Well, Joan is on crutches from a leg injury. It is very difficult for her to move. If something were to happen (and I don't think that it will), there is no way that I want to take the risk of evacuation or panic. With a population of over 30 million people, any "incident" would be a nightmare situation to deal with. Our controlled departure to Osaka by night bus last night was extremely difficult and stressful, compounded with that 6.0 which occurred while in the basement of a skyscraper. It was horrible. Should I wait because someone called me a "chicken?"

The situation in Tokyo over the last few days has been a combination of earthquakes, tsunamis, reactor issues, decreasing food and utility supplies, and general upset of daily life (trains, etc.). In my seven years as a volunteer fire fighter and four years as an EMT, I have seen and dealt with many terrible situations. I have seen many people wait too long to make a decision. I also know how hard it is to make the right decision with so much uncertainty.

As much as I didn't want to leave the city that we love as our new home, after a great deal of painful deliberation and discussion, we made the difficult decision to leave Tokyo until things calm down. It was a risk I could not and would not take. It was not a decision we made lightly, and I resent the implication that it wasn't.

While I understand that emotions run high in times like these, I think it is very inappropriate and unhelpful to judge and criticize others for the decisions they make in difficult situations. It is even harder to make the right decision when feeling that one might be judged unfairly for it.

A teacher friend has recently gone to Nagoya with her young child to stay with her in-laws at the request of her husband. He has a long commute from home, works long hours until late and does not have the luxury to be there for his family. He is constantly worried about what is going to happen and what will happen if he cannot be there, if, God forbid, "something" happens. Should he have kept his family in Tokyo because some people might think he is overreacting, panicky, or cowardly? Perhaps we should consider the complexities of the situation before making snarky tweets?

While I cannot speak for everyone who has left Tokyo, I can only assume, they, like us, feel horrible and guilty about leaving friends, families and their lives behind. I question the decision every minute I am here, but I can't - and shouldn't - feel bad about it.

As Joan said, "I'd rather feel silly about leaving than stupid about not leaving."

These are difficult times for everyone, and we should spend more time supporting each other and less tearing each other down.


maggie said...

People need to make the decision that is best for them in these situations. You owe nobody an explanation, even if they make snarky tweets as if you do.

Soccerphile said...

I totally agree with what you say. Everyone must make a decision as they see fit for their own circumstances.

braph said...

I believe it is a good decision - there is not right or wrong. It is yours. You should feel comfortable with it. One friends urged me to go and others (including my relatives to stay). There is no judgment, everybody is responsible and shame on people who are thinking otherwise whether they stay or leave.
I would re-post it

Woody said...

and the people who remain will probably be happy not to have any more people to wait for/fight with
on the way out if there is a problem, and they have to leave in a hurry.

Roanne said...

You have no reason to "justify" your leaving Tokyo. It was the right decision for you and Joan and one that I whole heartily support. The individuals who are leaving nasty "tweets" are more then likely very comfortably away from Japan, snacking and having nothing better to do then to rule on high. You guys do what you need to do to stay safe. Don't worry about what others think. Please take care and tell everyone there that I have them in my thoughts. Much peace.

Sybil said...

No need to question, the circumstances that allow you to do that makes it a no-brainer. I would have made tracks south way sooner than you did.

The Sane in an Insane world said...

You are totally right.Don't sweat it. I love NY but I am not going to stay there if something happens just to prove my loyalty. On the other hand...I have no loyalty to D.C.. Like - loyalty.