Comparing cultures in crisis.

First, this article about the behaviour of the Japanese during a crisis that defies description in its horror and potential:

Respect for property even in the middle of disaster (Photo: EPA)Respect for property even in the middle of disaster (Photo: EPA)

The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two; no industrialised country since then has suffered such a death toll. The one tiny, tiny consolation is the extent to which it shows how humanity can rally round in times of adversity, with heroic British rescue teams joining colleagues from the US and elsewhere to fly out.

And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting, and I’m not the only one curious about this.

This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?

Then we have this. Remember this video?

And much more recently, we have this from Australia:

Curiouser and curiouser

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

8 Replies to “Comparing cultures in crisis.”

  1. My daughter lived in Japan several years ago and she was very impressed by the respect they had for one another and the understanding of the impact bad behaviour has on the rest of society. As an example she told of vending machines left out in the open, no chains or padlocks securing them to the ground, no vandalism or people trying to smash them open. It was a given that they were there for everyone’s benefit and treated accordingly.

    Compare that with what would happen to vending machines left outside here in the UK.

  2. Much of North America (read: the USA) values aggression, competition, money, celebrity and power, not necessarily in that order. This leads to a culture where individuals fight among themselves to produce TV shows like Survivor, where its every man and woman for his/herself and the rules of civilized society be damned.

    Other parts of the world value social cohesion, altruism, cooperation and helping others over mere material gain. They are the ones who built civilizations all over the world and rally around each other for moral and emotional support when disaster strikes. They know that they are all equally affected by the massive changes and would not like to add to other’s suffering by looting.

    This is the simple difference between the USA and Japan in a nutshell.

  3. The Katrina video should not be an indictment of all Americans. Those individuals depicted in the News report are from the underclass of many generations conditioned by the welfare state, and the entitlement mentality preached to them by the leftists and liberals, and are content to live on the dole. There are still a lot of good people in the USA. During the recent floods in NJ many neighbors, church, community groups, and individuals pitched in and assisted homeowners and organizations with the clean up. Members of my family took in neighbors from the flooded area and fed them, during a crisis small deeds mean a lot. Church groups had young people assist with debris removal. Leave it to the MSM to report only the bad, horrific, and sensational never the good. After all the saying that fits the mission of the MSM best is “if it bleeds it leads, and if it burns it earns”

  4. 20, or even 10 yrs ago that would not of happened in the UK, ‘breaking into abandoned cars for free water. This is due to the “culturally enriched” we now have infesting our towns and cities. When I was growing up people cared about oneanother!

  5. You got that right Big Frank, the welfare class thinks only of themselves and never others, contrast them with the majority of the voters in the last election. The Democrats thought they would win because anyone voting for the Republicans would be voting against their individual interest, the voters decided to vote for what was best for the nation and not themselves.

  6. Most of the looters seen in New Orleans or Galveston are from the part of society raised to believe they are victims and therefore entitled to anything they can take. These people honestly don’t feel they are doing anything morally wrong when they steal. The MSM barely covers the acts of charity that followed after these disasters. The Southern Baptists were among the first to reach New Orleans after Katrina and Galveston after Ike and they stayed the longest to help with clean up, feeding and construction. No one ever covers the good work done by the Mennonites who come in and stay for months to rebuild houses. Convoy of Hope and Salvation Army were also there to provide relief.

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