How easy it is to get caught up in what we see as the challenges and pressures of our own lives and lose a little perspective. Or worse still create a false perspective. But then every once in a while, amidst our personal whirlwind something happens to make us stop and reflect on where and who we are. And just maybe to prompt us to re-calibrate ourselves in some way – to regain lost perspective or recognise a change that’s needed. That catalyst might be something up-close and personal like a relationship issue, something a little further away like a colleague who falls ill, or even something seemingly un-related to us a world away.
Last Friday that catalyst for me was the massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan. For me – no doubt like millions of people around the world – it brought out a range of emotions: shock at its scale; horror at its brutality; sadness for the lives lost; gratitude for my situation and family; amazement at the Japanese people’s resolve and calmness; and of course empathy.
Indeed it’s very often during times of adversity that our identification with and understanding of anothers’ situation grows and we intuitively focus on what brings us together, rather than what separates us. We feel a certain ‘connectedness’. Not only with Japanese communities around the world, but every community – from the local to the international – to instinctively understand that at this moment we can and must strive to achieve more together.
Fridays events and what followed reminded me that it’s not a cliché to say that we live in a connected – and inter-connected – world: many of us will have watched the events unfold as they happened practically in real-time; we will have heard reports of Japanese search and rescue teams (understandably) leaving Christchurch, New Zealand for home; we will have seen news animations of how earthquake warning systems around the world triggered automatic alerts on TV and mobile phones; and we will be starting to read reports of the economic impact on the West.
Of course technology increasingly plays a vital role in bringing about that connectedness. And what has struck me is that technology isn’t simply providing a ‘cold’ connection – with a corresponding lack of emotional connection. It’s enabling stories to be told and shared and it is playing an important part in bringing about empathy and understanding. And that is a very good thing.
In these terrible circumstances, the power of “more together” is incredibly visible. Perhaps, as individuals, we should all take a little more time on a regular basis to think how we can come together more often. It is this that will help us achieve more together in the long-term, rather than just in a momentary flicker where we are briefly distracted before life moves on to the next event, be it good or bad.