Priorities in the wake of disaster - Jason A. Smith

It's really sad to see what it takes, to take the spotlight off celebrities.

Until last week, every other story I saw on television or on the Internet, seemed to be about one of two people -- Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen.

For weeks, news outlets dominated the airwaves with stories of Lohan's legal troubles and Sheen's erratic behavior.

I've never understood the fascination with Lohan, on general principles. Still, seemingly every skirmish in which she finds herself, is treated as must-see material.

I admit, as much as I do not care for Lohan's reported partying ways, I've had to caution myself against developing a morbid curiosity into her brushes with the law.

As for Sheen, the public had been subjected, for weeks, to daily updates on his life. I even heard several reports on TV and radio recently, about the momentous occasion of Sheen obtaining a Twitter account.

I confess, I momentarily fell into the trap of celebrity enchantment, when I heard about Sheen's dismissal from the "Two and Half Men" TV show.

I remember telling my wife about his firing, to which she responded, appropriately, with a complete lack of interest.

The obsession with famous people and their falls from grace, were put into proper perspective last week -- though it took a tragedy half a world away, to do so.

The aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan contained images of destruction and chaos, the likes of which are rare and painful to watch. Everything from vehicles, to entire buildings, were seen barreling down water-filled streets and highways.

When I see those images, I can barely form words to describe the feeling they create. I find myself brokenhearted for people I've never met.

With the news of radiation emanating from nuclear power plants in the wake of the disaster, it is apparent the danger is not over for that part of the world.

The crisis in Japan made me, and hopefully, others, take a step back and re-evaluate the priorities we have in our society, for what is important and what isn't.

In the grand scheme of things, the lives of Regular Joe and Jane will not be affected by the trials and tribulations of Lohan or Sheen.

But, for the everyday-people of Japan, life will never be the same. The question, I think, for us is, what can we do to help?

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.