VOX POPULI: Through Fire and Ash, 3/30/2011

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By BRENTON MORI

A fundraiser at Little Tokyo’s 2nd Street Jazz in April 2011 gave me the opportunity to write and recite a spoken-word piece entitled “Through Fire and Ash,” intended to be my tribute to the people of Tohoku and Japan in their struggle to rebuild.

Two years later, the words that I had written and spoken still have much meaning and I now wish to share them with you.  They are and were always meant to be just one method of showing my support and love for Japan, and help inspire others to discover their own ways of showing support in times of adversity.

Conceived through fire and ash,
Hardened by centuries of warfare yet polished and refined by the tranquility of its landscape
and graciousness of its people,
The island nation of Japan, the land of my ancestors,
The Land of the Rising Sun, rose to stake its claim.

Through conviction built upon undying honor and fidelity,
Pinnacles of ascendance in war and commerce were realized,
Resonating in full force to permeate through the ages,
Revealing a nation forged and tempered through embracement of the old ways
and adaptation to the new.

A steadfast sense of duty, unfaltering discipline, and perseverance in the face of
great odds hold constant,
Eternally etched into the heart and soul of Japan,
Forever a source of strength and energy from which to draw upon,
The lifeline of a nation whose people strive for excellence
in any and all endeavors they undertake.

Throughout history, while facing seemingly insurmountable challenges,
Love for an ancestral homeland and the courage to follow through unite a nation’s people
during its darkest and most tragic hours,
Emitting the radiant light of hope and humanity stemming from the sincere embodiment of respect for self and respect for others,
Forever resilient, forever enduring,
Fighting to counter anguish and despair in all its splendor.

Now, in the midst of great peril,
While remaining true to the moral code that binds them,
A nation’s people persist to restore what was once theirs,
Recognizing that a new and daunting task confronts them and that despite layer upon layer
of emotions continuing to amass in the wake of disaster,
A calm heart, a clear mind, and a noble spirit must prevail to ease the suffering,
To reestablish order,
To witness once again the shimmering beacons of prosperity and well-being.

Tragedy does not discriminate, an inescapable element within all our existences and the genuine character of humanity transpires through adversity,
Fueling the willingness to self-sacrifice, to give aid,
To stand together as one in place of falling divided as many.

A common threat and a common purpose have brought the world together,
Giving rise to a global perception of benevolence and empathy rather than one of
selfishness and indifference,
Helping to lift Japan – my Motherland – from the abyss,
To ensure the longevity of a proud and timeless nation as it endures its journey towards rebirth,
To be conceived yet once again through fire and ash.

Brenton Mori is a fourth-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in Los Angeles.  He is an analyst with a global market research company and enjoys writing in his spare time.

Vox Populi is a column for our readers to express their feelings or opinions on any topic. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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