Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan

I woke up this morning in the usual way. I walked downstairs, brewed some coffee, emptied the dishwasher and settled down on the couch to browse the web. I became irritated as the computer seemed to take forever to boot up. Its funny how 25 years ago I didn’t even have internet, 10 years ago I slugged along with dial-up and now I sit impatient that my wireless connection took 3 minutes to engage. Suddenly I’m confronted with the news that while I slept Japan was rocked by an earthquake, an 8.9 Richter scale monster. I watched in horror the video feeds of the epic destruction, cars bobbing up and down in raging rivers of debris like apples in a tub at a family reunion. Fires blazed at refineries, entire buildings and large boats carried along by the wild water, people stumbling around with their eyes turned upward at the swaying buildings around them. The devastation was so complete, so incomprehensible that my mind could not stand to watch any further. Immediately I checked the stock markets around the world. How would this disaster affect the financial world? It occurred to me that insurance company stocks would get hammered. What impact would it have on the company that owns my broker-dealer which happens to be an insurance company?

So far the official death toll is 16 or something but as the magnitude of the event unfolds that number will surely sky-rocket, probably into the thousands. I am unable to come to grips with the violence of the world. I watch from the comfort of my sofa as the groans of the planet consume people. Whether its an act of God like this earthquake and tsunami or it’s Khadafy’s thugs mowing down his own people in Libya, I am finding it more and more difficult to process the madness. My faith warns of this sort of thing through the prophecies of the Bible, but I take little comfort in that knowledge. Earthquakes have been with us since the dawn of time and every generation since the first century has been convinced that the coming of Christ was at hand. As wicked as the bad actors of our time may be most can’t hold a candle to Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Attila the Hun. Maybe we think its worse now because we can see the carnage on our cell phones literally within minutes, unedited. I find nothing reassuring about prophesy. Whether God is in control of events are not doesn’t change the fact that the world seems hell-bent on destruction and real flesh and blood human beings are dropping like flies…while I worry about my portfolio and the babies in Wisconsin rend their garments because the tax-payers have asked them to contribute 5.8% of their pay towards their retirement plans and 12.5% towards their health insurance. While entire ports in Japan are wiped off the map, Harry Reid laments that federal funding for the “Cowboy Poets Festival” might get slashed. Cry me a river.

I am reduced to offering up a prayer for the suffering people 7000 miles away. Somehow I must put it all out of my mind and do my job. I must do the best I can with what I’ve been given to do, which is here in a fine neighborhood in Short Pump,Virginia, far far away from Japan.