I am filled with sorrow for the troubles in Japan. Today, many blogs have been calling for silence and prayers -- I join that effort. I have been praying constantly for the people of Japan since the crisis began, and now I am adding a visual prayer :
The thing I keep coming back to is that what harms one part, harms the whole. So, we are all Japan. We are all Egypt, Libya, Haiti, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand..... Our similarities are greater than our differences. One of my favorite poems is
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
On the subject of what we, as individuals, can do to help, I am hesitant to send cash donations to the American Red Cross even though the news channels all urge us to do so. They have a relatively high administrative overhead, so less of the money you give will end up benefitting the people in need. Personally, I give to Americares, which allocates about 99% of its funds to direct assistance, according to Charity Navigator.