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Helping Japan

March 16, 2011

As we watch the unimaginable horror that the Japanese are enduring, I am struck by some observations about this disaster.  When speaking with friends and family, I’ve noticed the analogy we use most frequently for the overwhelming video footage is that it’s reminiscent of a movie with computer-generated graphics.  Almost as though “fact” is so much more than we can comprehend, so we compare it to fiction.  Of course, this sense is only exacerbated when we go from this shocking footage to a commercial for a cruise line (now, that’s the definition of dissonance).  And my cynical self says, “This is the downside of technology: we can’t handle reality any longer.”

But then I went to Google to search for the Japanese Red Cross, thinking that I could find out how to make a donation.  That led to the Google Crisis Response page where you can donate, search for a loved one, report on a missing person who’s been found, get emergency numbers, determine transportation options and contact the U.S. Embassy.  On Twitter, the top tweet is #HelpJapan, where you can find tweets ranging from supporting a bake sale to the best ways to be helpful if you’re in Tokyo.  A Yahoo search quickly reminded me of all the help the Japanese had given us during Hurricane Katrina.

On our own corporate intranet site we very quickly learned that all of our BlackRock colleagues were safe–and because this is rather like a large family, it was similar to getting a call from your aunt, letting you know everything’s OK.  We were also reminded of our generous corporate gift matching policy.

So, my cynicism has subsided and I am once again awestruck by the power of technology, the generosity of the human spirit, and unfortunately, the one-upmanship that Nature sometimes displays.

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