If you are reading this, then you probably already know my connection to Japan.

Tokyo Husband. Years living there. Biracial children.

I am heavily bound up in so many ways with Japan and Japanese and Japanese-Americans that I could not list them for you in one journal entry.

And you probably already know of the earthquakes and tsunami and continuing nuclear scare, the worst of which is/was happening where many of my extended family live.

But I am here today to tell you something, in the words of insightful author John Green, about tragedy.

We live our lives in close proximity to tragedy.

Reading this, you are in close proximity to loss and fear and rolling blackouts and husbands in cities without train service and children waking up in the middle of the night because of aftershocks and school closings and wondering how to rebuild entire cities.

Because I am in close proximity to this.

As we are all in close proximity to other, less mentioned and sensationalized tragedies.

My mind keeps circling around to this one idea.

I found a quote somewhere attributed to Mr. Rogers, of all people, “Wherever there’s a tragedy, look for the people who are helping. There’s always someone trying to help.”

You’ve already probably read somewhere that Japan is as prepared a country as one could be for devastating earthquakes and tsunami. I still remember sewing the bag for girl1’s earthquake padded head cover when she attended preschool in Tokyo, and the constant announcements from the public address systems all over Japan. Here’s another American’s eyewitness take on how Japan’s preparedness helped during the earthquake.

But you can’t ever be prepared, can you?

We all feel the devastating anxiety and shock as we watch those videos and read those accounts and keep CNN on tv to see eyewitness recordings of water swirling around houses and trucks like they were toys.

Life is pain. (anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something). We can’t prepare against pain.

But we can take that pain and let it sharpen us, and clarify things for us, and make us remember that we are alive, now, and ARE NOT HELPLESS.

So I challenge you, right now, to turn off CNN, and stop reloading the news updates constantly.

I don’t mean shut yourself off from important information, just don’t revel, drown yourself in those images. Yes, we have pain. Yes there is suffering.

I challenge you, right now, to DO SOMETHING about it. Contribute to the Red Cross , globalgiving.org’s Tsunami Relief Fund, or even your local food bank.

Or even go out and buy some jugs of water in case tragedy strikes closer to home.

Or confirm with your children that they know where to go or how to contact you in an emergency.

Because technology can never really bridge the gap between us, but it can help alleviate suffering if we don’t allow it to mesmerize us into complacency, but use it to help us help others.

The people in Japan are my neighbors, and if you are reading this, they are yours. See their tragedy and pain, and make it into a testament to the cruel and awesome beauty of human life by contributing money or making your own world just a little bit more prepared.