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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Human Tragedy, Haiti and God

Once again we receive news that a population made up of some of the poorest people in the world have been struck by a natural disaster, this time the terrible earthquake in Haiti. As soon as such events happen the cry goes up, and understandably so, "Where is God? How can a just and loving God allow things like this?" While I do not pretend to have any definitive answer to that question and no one really does, I would like to offer a reflection and a perspective on this terrible tragedy.

First of all I reject offhand, and indeed find it appalling, that anyone who considers them self Christian would suggest that God is punishing these people. Shame on the Pat Robertsons of this world who say things like this. What is true is that the Creator has placed us in a fragile world where storms, earthquakes, pandemics, etc happen frequently. Life is fragile and when these things happen they should provide an awakening to all of us and a reminder that we are not in charge here, that there is no guarantee that we will live to be 80 years old, even though that is more or less the statistical norm. I say this not to frighten anyone but rather to suggest that in spite of our modern technology and great advances in medicine we will never succeed in total control over nature. It is an illusion to think otherwise and when we face the truth of this we become more free and more aware of what is really important in life.

More importantly we can so easily ask, "Why does this happen to poor people so often?" Instead, I think we need to be asking "Why is there so much poverty? Why is there so much unequal distribution of the goods of this world, gifted to us by the creator?" A 7.0 earthquake is a tragedy whether it happens in Beverly Hills, Greenwhich, CT, Nigeria or Haiti. The challenge for us is to learn the lessons, not so much that the Creator sends us from above, but that are naturally built into such tragedies by the Creator. The whole world is and will continue to respond to help the poor people of Haiti. We always seem to step up to the plate when these tragedies strike. In a short while, however, the aid will cease to come and the poverty and injustice will continue, or will it? The blame for that falls on us humans, not on the creator. Will our response be different this time? Will we numb ourselves to the human suffering in Haiti and elsewhere, or will we change our priorities?

3 comments:

  1. That was beautiful reflection. I am so pleased that individual americans have stepped up to the plate and donated to the cause.carolyn

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  2. Cousin John,
    This is your cousin Joanie Anglin. I like the reflection on the Epiphany. The Epiphany is also my birthday. I liked being born on that day and love understanding the events, symbolism and message. (this Epiphany I turned 60 so it was very reflective) Wishing you well. Been in touch with Cousin Dennis and learning the ancestory of the Anglins through him. God Bless You, Joanie

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  3. Thanks for your reflection and affirmation of a loving God. Blessings to you always,
    Hilda S :)

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