It’s hard to think of anything these days except Japan–and now Libya. We are left paralyzed by a steady stream of images that couldn’t be more real and impossible at the same time. We social mammals are hard-wired to experience the pain we witness in others and modern media brings that high-definition anguish into our homes 24/7. It is our blessing and our curse.
It is at these worst of times that I am reminded that there is no such thing as “private health.” All health, all dis-ease is public. We sink or swim together. And if I needed to be reminded, once again, of just how connected we social creatures are, I could just watch this video of the two dogs who miraculously survived the total destruction of their town, their family, their world as they knew it. One of these dogs was badly injured. The other would not leave its side when help finally arrived. Their bravery and loyalty, and their rescue has lifted broken hearts all around the world.
If you haven’t seen these dogs, click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3TM9GL2iLI&feature=email —or click on it again to discover another “miracle.” You’ll find you that you actually can speak Japanese, in fact, you can speak Dog. I put the word miracle in quotes, because your innate comprehension of what you see isn’t the result of your having developed supernatural powers. You are, however, tapping into are the very ancient, very natural powers of non-verbal fluency that have connected us to each other and to all creatures for millions of years. When we are left speechless at the sight of wonderful and horrible things, it is this visual, visceral understanding that tells us everything we need to know.
It reminds us that we humans are not the only citizens of this shrinking, shaking, sinking planet. We will never look at Japan or nuclear power the same way again. And I hope we never look at dogs the same way again, either. There is so much we don’t know. We must respect that. We must relearn to recognize love and honor wherever we find it. We must look more closely at each other and hear what is said and not said. Our ability to connect and have compassion for each other that is the only clean energy we can count on.
And maybe that’s why the images of the disasters in Japan–and Libya–are so disturbing.
Meg Daley Olmert
Senior Fellow and Author of Made for Each Other, The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (DaCapo, 2009)