song du jour: silence

mood: can't even process

How Do You Name the Unthinkable?

With yet another catastrophic disaster - what is this 4 in 9 months? I've lost track. - I'm starting to feel the numbness of trying to process too much world grief beginning to quiver and give way. My grandmother was dying when Katrina hit, so I told myself to skip all media news, because I could only deal with the grief in front of me. Since then, I've donated household goods to families who were sheltered in my neighborhood and have now found homes. I donate money when I can, but there isn't much to go around right now. My contributions are a tiny drop in a giant bucket. I start to think about how I would react if faced with such devastation, and I start to shut down.

Breaking my own CNN.com taboo yesterday, I stared at photos of earthquake rubble in Pakistan. I remembered what my son's uncle said after driving thru Louisiana to reach Atlanta in his family's flight of Rita, "You've seen the pictures? It's much much worse than what they show." Real life is worse in 3D. The closest an earthquake has effected me involved being on the waiting end of a phone for 24 very long hours on the other side of the planet from where a big one hit. Torture, but not the same as seeing the crushed building where your loved ones lay buried. My heart hurts for all in grief this year.

I am one of those people who, despite the so called enlightened environmentalists, wants to say, "IT'S A WAKE UP CALL!!!" Perhaps it is now regarded as naive to look for a direct cause - and therefore blame - such as global warming as it is to say, "Allah is displeased!" I think these natural disasters are a wake up call, though not sent by someone or something. I'm not exactly white robed and chanting around my big water oaks, but I do believe we can only process these disasters with an awareness that we are NOT the most powerful thing on the planet and we should treat it with reverence not because it might get back at us, but because it's bound to take us down regularly. Remembering that might make us behave a little less impulsively and a little less stupidly, at least perhaps toward each other.

I wonder sometimes, what it is about the psychological makeup of humans that frequently causes fundamentalist people to assume that every disaster is a sign that they aren't doing enough to spread the word. Specifically, I wonder why it never occurs to anyone that the message might be "God is not happy with the whole mass killing thing." What is it about sociopaths (and I'm perfectly happy to include most fundamentalists in this category, including many Southern Baptists, extreme Mormans, and Appalachian snake handlers to name a few, and not by any means just fundamentalist Muslims, though I'll put some of them at the top of the list for being most likely to behave physically dangerously) that makes them say this is a sign that God wants them to be more of what they already are? More extreme. More excluding. More violent. The message is always 2nd and 3rd person, never 1st. God is showing HE is displeased with THEM. (Yes, in all fairness, there are a fair number of women out there saying Gaia is displeased too.) People are so desperate to hear from God that bad news is better than no news at all as long as it can be projected onto someone else. It occurs to many fundamentalist Muslims that Katrina and Rita hit because God is not happy with the Iraq thing. It would never occur to a certain fundamentalist Republican president that Katrina and Rita hit because God is not happy with the Iraq thing.

One good thing in the wake of utter disaster is the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan pledging to help rather than continue their fighting in the Kashmir region and the pledging of their less than allies (us and the U.K.) to give all aid possible. (Wonder how long it took for the U.S. to send in those choppers since no one had to wait for an ok from F.E.M.A.?) In an "act of man" in the name of God, people will take sides. In an "act of God," people are more likely to take the only real side there is: everyone's.

No comments: