A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Monday, 23 May 2011
ON DISASTERS AND BELIEF
“I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.” - Catherine II
The USA has been having a hard time lately, what with the economic woes, the unemployment, the falling dollar, the rising fuel prices, foreclosures, business failures, increased homelessness, rising crime rate and most importantly the natural disasters that are taking their toll, it is not the best of times. The most recent of the disasters that hit the small town of Joplin in Missouri was one of the deadliest single tornadoes that struck the USA in almost 60 years. The twister wrought its terrible work over a distance of 6.5 km and left just under 120 people dead and many hundreds injured. There are still so many more buried under wreckage, hopefully some of them alive and able to be rescued. The death toll from 2011 tornadoes until now, stands at 455, the deadliest year for tornados since 1953.
Looking at the pictures published makes one feel awe, terror, pity and compassion. Wreckage everywhere, homes and businesses reduced to rubble, cars that have become just piles of twisted metal and big trucks crushed and bent over themselves as if they were made of tinfoil. There are reports of heavy rain, strong winds, lightning and during the peak of the freak weather phenomenon, flying debris that was hurled with might through the air only to crush anything in its path. Some video footage of the disaster leaves one speechless. More than 2,000 buildings (about a third of the city of 50,000 people) were damaged or destroyed.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by the disaster, but also to the courageous rescue workers who continue to work relentlessly in the aftermath. In their exhaustion they continue to pick their way through rubble, gingerly moving debris, listening carefully for sounds of terrified people buried in the wreckage. It takes a special person to be a rescue worker, a firefighter, an ambulance worker, a police officer, a search and rescue worker. Their lives are dedicated altruistically to helping others and everyday they prove through their actions their love for their fellow human beings. Who needs more proof of one human’s care and love of another than in the face of these workers who risk their own lives daily to help save the lives of others.
Which brings me to Harold Camping, who predicted the unrealised Doomsday and subsequent Rapture for believers on May 21, 2011. This pernicious man exemplifies all that is dangerous in someone who professes to be a man of God. Through his influence and wide ranging media powers, this man convinced thousands that the end of the world was indeed coming on the 21st of May and they, in their blind belief gave everything away, and waited for the end that never came.
This preacher shows all what is treacherous in such preachifying. The point of preaching is to inform or convince the hearer of a certain world-view or belief. Many non-religious people shun preachers and accuse them of forcing their own beliefs on people. But preaching can also serve as an inflammatory encouragement to people who already subscribe to the preacher’s beliefs. A preacher can light great fires by fanning small embers in the hearts of people. For many, the term “preacher” is derogatory, while some consider it an honour. It all depends what the preacher is preaching, I think. Camping’s preaching has caused immense damage and he continues to preach, now having modified his Doomsday prediction for October 21st this year. I dread to think how many people will once again be misled and beguiled…
I guess we should be grateful that Harold Camping confined his activities to preaching only. Do you remember three decades ago the events that resulted in the deaths of more than 900 people in the middle of a South American jungle? Though called a “massacre”, what happened at Jonestown on November 18, 1978, was to some extent done willingly, making the mass suicide all the more disturbing. The Jonestown cult (the “People’s Temple”) was founded in 1955 by Indianapolis preacher James Warren Jones. Jones, who had no formal theological training, based his liberal ministry on a combination of religious and socialist philosophies. His followers lost their lives in their belief of Jones’ Doomsday prophecies. Just as well Camping did not advocate mass suicides in the advent of the May 21st “Rapture”.
Look at the picture above. It is a photograph by Roger Nomer of “The Joplin Globe”. A rescue worker is carrying a young girl to safety. Here is a man who is putting the word of God into action. He doesn’t preach, he doesn’t want to convert anyone to his faith, his belief is strong and sure enough to compel him to work everyday miracles. He doesn’t have to wait for Doomsday to experience “Rapture”; his rapture comes every evening when he goes home exhausted, content in the knowledge that his daily work has given the gift of life to many of his fellow humans who otherwise may not have lived. Here is a man of God, preaching through his actions and making a difference, making the world a better place. Harold Camping, look at this picture and be ashamed…
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.