Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Natural born killers

Natural disasters seem to be the overriding theme in the Year of the Cock.

Just like the term cock-eye, nature does not see clearly, where or who, it strikes with its fury.

Barely a month ago, U.S. experience the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, Japan shook under the power of Typhoon Nabi and China had to face Typhoon Talim.

A little more than a week ago, there was Hurricane Stan which hit Guatemala. The death toll is now 652 from this unwidely-publicised storm, and still rising.

But typhoons and hurricanes can be predicted because they are formed over seas and they may or may not hit shores.

Earthquakes and volcanoes are different. We don’t have the technology yet to detect these calamities before they happen.

The most recent earthquake that struck one of the poorest country in the world (2000 GDP ranking was 146, with a population of 160 million) has got me thinking.

One can’t help but wonder why disasters seem to hit those who can do without such added misfortune.

People who are already impoverished, with many young mouths to feed.

Areas which are not developed and remote, where houses are made from wood and crumble easily. And it happened on a Saturday morning, when scores of children were attending school.

It’s obvious that it doesn’t matter whether one believes in a particular God or not; no one is spared.

Or maybe He is making a point that no particular belief and no one is above others.

We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature. The Earth is just going through its own cycle of life.

I echoed this writer’s point of view:
Let's put 2005 in pulpit perspective. The tsunami, as the old year ended, destroyed Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and churches with indiscriminate violence. It swept away the agnostic pleasure domes of Thailand's tourist coast. It drowned people of almost every religion and none. Add New Orleans for the cymbal clash of the born-again and the black, for Southern Baptists and old-time religionists, and what have you got? A year of disaster spread and shared. A year when every God - or no god at all - seemed angry. A year with a mission to destroy.

On a somewhat positive note, this disaster might bring Pakistan and India a little closer, or at least for now, over the long disputed Kashmir area.

Whether these natural occurrences are really part of the climatic cycle of Earth or that the frequency and severity of these events have actually increased due to human activities, I will leave it to the scientists to find out.

To be really cynical, I wouldn’t put past some deluded people to proclaim that this disaster as yet another “wrath of God”. To destroy a supposedly terrorists’ hotbed area.

I sincerely hope that aid reaches the victims promptly so that unnecessary deaths due to diseases can be minimised.


Chris said...

Not really a very religious person but I do pray considering I'm chinese... Well, I wouldn't be able to do much except sympathise with the unfortunate people... Perhaps this is just the beginning of something else? Or maybe after this year, everything will be better?

Who knows... ^^;

Of course, I hope things will change for the better though! ;)

R said...

Ah, it is really sad when people die especially from natural disasters or killed. And what's more outrageous is when people start to blame "who and who" supposedly cause the disaster to happen.

Well, there's nothing much I can do here except pray for those survivors to be able to keep strong and pull through at these times.

alex said...

When disaster happens, people try to make sense of the magnitude. Things beyond our control are usually attributed to some Supreme Being(s). If it happened at enemy's land, it's God taking revenge. If it happened at our land, then it's a test of faith. Strange huh?

I was there at Pakistan 2 months ago. The Pakistanis I've met are very kind and friendly. I wonder did they survive the earthquake, especially our fatherly driver. I really hope they do. And they will definitely rebuild from the rubble.

"The strongest force of nature is the human spirit."

Derek said...

chris: You pray because you're a Chinese? Heh .. more like parents pray, I pray lor ... or coz the altar is there?

We all hope things will turn out for the best. We'll see.

ru: The people who take advantage of disasters and start blaming or preaching, they are really abhorrent.

alex: You are very right. Everything can be interpreted in one's own way ...

I hope that your Pakistani friend is alright too.

Espion said...

I think I mentioned somewhere here after Katrina that more 'natural' disasters are to come.

No, no I am not a prophet, I am just being scientific.

Yes really, it is entirely predictable.

It is something called extrapolation from past events and given the 'nature' of things, such as earthquakes and hurricanes and unknown diseases. All scientists (and actuarists too) do that don't they?

So it is obvious that we can see.

It is also obvious that we do not know nor able to control everything, and that there is a 'power' out there seemingly beyond our domination, or at least for now.

But the human spirit is certainly strong and resolute and will strive ever harder to put these elements under control, as humans have subjected other natural elements in the past, eg nuclear energy, smallpox, gravity, to name a few. Mankind are now left with only a few small things, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, global warming, bird flu, ebola, poverty, the damned terrorists and travel to the stars of course.

But then if you think - and not too hard - about it, when we say all these 'natural disasters are caused by 'Nature' are we not really resorting to the natural 'god-of-the-gaps' fallacy?

That is we really don't know what 'caused' it, and we are simply calling an unknown X with an undefined Y. It does not really changed anything: we know just as much, ie nothing.

And in 'natural' events we can substitute our ignorance with Nature or Tau Pek Kong or Allah or karma or Fate or Mother Earth or Satan. You can choose what you like, for whatever reasons.

But can you really choose what you like? Is it simply a matter of choice? ie what you choose is what is? Or that you have no choice: if you choose wrong you are damned? Well you may choose to think or say I am speaking rubbish too, and Ctrl-Alt-Del all I said. Sure, no prob.

But if you say 'Nature' is simply 'what is' then you are unwittingly acknowledging and calling 'it' the God of the bible, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the God of Moses.

For when Moses asked God His name, God said, "I AM I AM", ie God is the very essence of existence and being itself, everything that is, is God, including Nature, and hurricanes and earthquakes and bird flu and those damned terrorists too.

So that makes God a wicked and cruel and vegeneful God? Or on contrary a loving, patient and and forgiving God?

Think about it.

What I think is somewhere here.

May Nature bless you today.