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Jewish Journal

78 Million Reasons to Love the People of Japan

by Ilana Angel

August 19, 2011 | 12:30 am

In a world of chaos, it is hard to look at the recent news stories in London, Israel, or the Sudan, and not feel sadness for humanity.  Human beings are more alike than we are different, and that we are able to so easily hate and hurt each other weighs heavy on my heart.  My life is blessed, yet the world is broken, and I struggle to understand why it is this way.

Japan is a beautiful country that I hope to visit one day. I have long had a fascination with the culture and history of her people.  They are so respectful and kind that you can’t help but wonder what went wrong here.  I know they are not perfect, and there is no perfect country, but I read an article today that makes me think Japan is pretty close.

It has been 5 months since a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the coast of Japan.  Since that fateful day, the people of Japan have handed in to authorities, over $48 million dollars in cash, and over 5700 safes, which contained an additional $30 million dollars in cash.  This is money people found in the debris, and did not keep as it simply was not theirs.

It has been reported that one safe in particular, contained over $1 million dollars, and it was returned, without a single penny removed.  Would you do the same? Would I? How is it that someone who has nothing, and whose life could be altered forever, is able to return money that can never be traced back to its owner?  Where does that kindness come from?

When everything has been lost, and desperation is clawing at the door, how does one choose kindness and compassion over looting and madness?  How many people do you know who would do the right thing?  Imagine an entire country doing the right thing at the same time.  Remember what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, and we must be ashamed.

I believe that people are inherently good.  It’s a silly belief when you take into consideration that every single day I am shown proof that it is simply not the case.  I can look at all the people who returned the money of their countrymen and know that there is hope for the human race.  The people of Japan have restored my faith in humanity.

As Shabbat approaches I send my love, respect and heartfelt admiration to every single person in Japan who chose to do the right thing.  I wish you health, happiness and peace.  I am also sending a check to The Red Cross for aid to the people of Japan.  God bless you Japan. I thank you for reminding me that there is good in the world, and to keep the faith.

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