Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finding Reasons

I’ve come across way too many posts lately that talk about Hurricane Katrina as being punishment for one thing or another—either the “sinful” atmosphere of New Orleans or, even more bizarre, the United States’s role in the disengagement from Gaza.

Forgive me if I’m blunt. I find such “justifications” offensive and disgusting. They make God out to be as bad as the worst of human beings: narrow, petty, vindictive. And the people who peddle this garbage set themselves up as God’s prophets and judges on earth. That’s pretty presumptuous of them, to say the least.

I e-mailed a dear friend of mine today with a sad, tongue-in-cheek observation about Hurricane Katrina: “I guess that’s Mother Nature in a really bad mood.”

To which she replied, sensibly:

Actually, it's mother nature doing what comes naturally, which is punishing men for their inequities—I don't mean moral ones, but the stupid ones like ignoring the fact that NO is below sea level and not building a drainage system.

I have to say that frankly, I wonder whether any drainage system that exists in the world today could have dealt with Katrina’s terrible blow to the Gulf Coast. But in any case, my friend is absolutely right. Not that Mother Nature was consciously punishing anyone—that isn’t what she meant. Simply that what happened was a natural event that we might have been better prepared for. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes—all these things are part of the world we live in. Today we are fortunate enough to have technology to predict them and ways to prepare for them. It’s up to us to use them in the best way possible. If we don’t, that is our own failure, not divine punishment.

To move this a bit closer to home: Israel sits on a fault line. We live in earthquake country over here, and scientists say we’re due for a big one sooner rather than later. Although we have had plenty of warning in the form of several small earthquakes over the past several years, adherence to building codes is not a strong suit for many contractors here. So whose fault will it be when the substandard buildings collapse in the next big quake? How much sense does it make to blame God for it when we could—and should—be doing something about it right now?

I refer those who would have us believe that Hurricane Katrina—or any form of human suffering, for that matter—is divine punishment to Psalms 115:16: “The heavens belong to God, but the earth he gave over to human beings.”

Meaning that the responsibility for dealing with things like this belongs exclusively to us. Blaming them on God is an abdication of that responsibility. Even worse, it’s a form of giving ourselves permission to sit by and do nothing. After all, if God punished these people, who are we to contradict the Divine Will? Better leave them to their fate.


If we want to look for the Hand of God, we will find it by opening our hearts and wallets, and helping the survivors as much as possible.

For a much more eloquent post on this topic, read Elisson: Tikkun Olam.

And for ways to help the survivors, each of the following sites has lots of links to various aid organizations: The Truth Laid Bear. Meryl Yourish. Laurence Simon. LGF. Michelle Malkin. Strengthen the Good. Instapundit. And Harrison at The Terriorists has lots of links to help pets displaced by the hurricane.

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