Life-destroying disasters arise from Nature’s periodic whims such as hurricanes and earthquakes. But there are also calamities that result from social injustice and iniquities, fanatical beliefs, racial and religious tensions, and the like.
Reflections on these matters are certainly stimulating and clarifying when we are in the comfort zone of home and hearth, but when, for no fault at all, one is thrown into the quagmire of violent political conflicts, or when one’s modest life course is rudely jarred by Nature’s blind fury, what is one to do?
Under such circumstances, our worldviews can be shattered. Some cling even more dearly to the God from whom they still expected love and mercy, because that faith gives them the strength of heart to bear the burden. Others are tempted to abandon their long-held trust in such a God.
But those who are not directly affected often feel a moral obligation to help their fellow creatures on the planet, in however small and symbolic a measure, with no consideration of race or religion, nationality or history.
What, one may wonder, is the source of this innate morality that touches so many people, if not all? I don’t know, and in a context like this, I am reminded of the poem:
When Disaster Strikes
When lightning strikes a praying crowd
And the pious burn and die;
When earthquakes bury decent folk
And orphaned children cry;
When sick and old are abandoned too
And people lose their mind:
Try not for these and disasters such
Answers clear to find.
There are times to ask if God’s just a thought
Or indeed a fact.
There are times at which we need to go
And at once begin to act.
With loss and pain and intense grief
We don’t have much to gain,
From arguments on heaven and hell.
They’ll all be just in vain.
Let’s search and see what we can do
For those who are in need,
Let’s see how we can help and heal,
How we can clothe and feed.
It does not matter if we do not know
Why there’s pain around.
What we need are helping hands,
Not learned views and sound.
March 12, 2011