Art as an Emergency Supply

Two big earthquakes in 5 years! Each time, I went as a truck driver to deliver emergency water, food, fuel, and supplies...but each time I was asked to come back as an artist, as a musician. Never before have I realized the purpose and power of art. Before it seemed like something "extra," something people do when they have 余裕 (literally: surplus abundance of time, money, energy, etc.) in their lives. But through these disasters, I see that art is essential. Art is one of the essential emergency supplies! Why don't first responder teams include musicians?

The truth is counter-intuitive. People in Tokyo say, "It's too early for musicians. We need to wait until the important things are taken care of." Leaders in shelters say, "I'm not sure we should bring in music," wanting to stick to the basics and protect the people. People in shelters sometimes cover their heads with blankets and turn away from us. Then, we begin to play, and the atmosphere COMPLETELY changes. People stand in line to talk to us. People share their lives with us. They play and sing for us. They cry for us, and remember their humanity with us. NOBODY expects music to have such an effect. What a gift we have been given in music! May we learn as a people how better to embrace it for 人間の繁栄 (literally: everywhere-all-the-time flourishing of humankind).