Is it okay to ask if Maru is okay?

Maru is a chubby, adorable Scottish Fold cat who lives in Japan.  He's clumsy and has an affinity for jumping in and out of boxes.  Because of his silliness, he's internet-famous enough to merit his own Wikipedia page.  Individuals videos of him on Youtube have literally millions of views.  You can spend hours watching them here or, if you read Japanese, read more about Maru on his blog.

A week after the quake struck Japan, the GF and I wondered what happened to Maru.  With everything going on, I figured I might find a link to a blog that might have an update buried in the search results someplace.  I typed, "is maru okay" in the Google search box and the results stunned me.

The good news is that Maru is okay and is apparently getting used to a carrier in case he and his human need to evacutate.

The level of concern for this kitty amused, appalled, and made me feel warm and giddy.

With nearly 10,000 dead, hundreds of thousands of people suffering, and a disaster that is still unfolding a week later, what is wrong with so many of us that there is this level of concern for a cat? My first thought was that it was almost offensive.  And then I got over myself.

For some reason, Maru in his silly videos has touched people around the world. For many people these videos maybe their only connection to Japan outside of mass media.  It feels like a personal connections. And it's their only connection to the tragedy of the earthquake, Tsunami, and nuclear reactor problems.

The news shows us thousands.  The news shows us towns being wiped away.  The news talks about the impact in billiions of dollars.  But while the particulars are different, in essence, it's just one more disaster story for us to read about and text the Red Cross about.

As people, we can't make a connection with thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. It's just not the way we're wired.  And if we could make that connection, would we even be able to climb out of bed after hearing about such a disaster? Or even reading a newspaper?  No.

But we can make a conenction with one, little ball of fur and his human, who make us laugh and touch our hearts.  Asking about Maru isn't about disregarding the fate of thousands of people and putting them in line behind a cat.  It's about making sense of the scale of what is happening. And when someone's first question is about Maru, it's not a question about a cat.  It's the only question many of us can ask as we contemplate what northern Japan faces in the coming months and years.

So it's okay to ask, "Is Maru okay?"  And, at least for now, the answer is yes.

I know it doesn't even need to be said (especially if you read all the way to end of my post about a Japanese cat) but please keep the people of Japan and their cats, dogs, and other pets in your thoughts and prayers as the events continue to unfold.


Shawna said...

I'm actually really glad you posted about Maru. My kids and I really love watching those videos, and I WAS worried about him. I do have some other tenuous ties to Japan, as my brother and SIL were stationed there, and still have friends there, but once assured that THEY were OK, was worried about Maru. So glad he's OK, and also glad I wasn't the only one concerned.

Vera said...

I had not known about Maru before today, thanks for sharing. Everyone is thinking about Japan and everyone there affected by the tragedy - furry friends included. :)

teecup said...

My cats and I were wondering about the same thing. We inadvertently kill time just to watch his YouTube videos. I'm glad Maru is okay! :)