We need to learn skills for coping with our feelings of sadness, anger and terror evoked by tragedies like those in Fukushima, Katrina and Haiti, so that we rise to these occasions rather than collapse into them.
We are always shocked when catastrophes strike, and we always feel badly for the people affected by them -- for a while. But inevitably, we forget, and we don't make any changes to our lives at all.
That bumper sticker kept going over and over in my mind: "The best things in life aren't things." And yet, as true as I knew it to be, I still couldn't help but feel somewhat sick to my stomach that most of my things were now in a pile of ash.
Amid the slushy mid-March drizzle, Bostonians came together in a place of heaven to mourn Japan's trifecta from hell.
Despite all that's happened, I believe in the enduring spirit of the Japanese people, those who live in the Land of the Rising Sun. "It has happened, it will pass, they will soldier on."
A major sushi restaurant chain's refusal to buy Japanese-caught fish is an overreaction. But that doesn't mean the toxic residue of a substantial radioactive release should be taken lightly.
When a politician says that they want to end environmental restrictions on drilling in order to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil or bring the price of gas down, they are speaking utter nonsense.
It is true that there are challenges involving the isolation and disposal of radioactive waste. But it's not the occasion to engage in conversations about abandoning nuclear energy altogether.
Bidding on works in "Handmade for Japan" is a fitting way to support the immediate rescue and recovery effort, and it is also way to give thanks to Japan for the way their aesthetics have helped all of us see the world around us in a different way.
The phenomenon of American citizens making digital donations saw a substantial increase with the introduction of a mobile shortcode after the Haitian earthquake in January 2010.
The pace of change is quickening exponentially, while our ability to contain it falls further behind. The idea of being in control of everything is being replaced with the recognition that, in truth, we are in control of very little.
No one can be so ridiculous as to suggest that some sort of miserable, bearded Christian deity was just sitting around, bored out of his mind, and suddenly decided, on a frustrated whim, to flick his middle finger against the Pacific plate.
Should a magnitude 9.0 earthquake strike the Pacific Northwest tomorrow, the initial damage would in all likelihood be at least as bad as the devastation in Japan, and the aftermath far worse.
Is it reasonable to stake our future on a devilishly uncontrollable, potentially lethal technology? If we did not have other options, perhaps it would be. Could it be that "our nuclear future" is an oxymoron?
In the current critical moment, the Japanese calamity has shown all the world the harsh downside risks of just a few of the societal compromises we've made. In response to this wake-up call, a shift could happen.
Mother Nature today, yesterday the loss of a job, the illness of a friend or the unspeakable violence of someone wielding a gun in Arizona forces us to re-decide where to place our faith and what really matters.