It’s alright?

Japan earthquake devastationThe scenes coming out of Japan are nearly incomprehensible, the violent shaking of the ground and the uncontrollable surging of the following tsunami.  It might only be mid-March but 2011 has already obtained a level of infamy for its ferocity.

We were close by during the Brisbane floods, arguably it was the run-off from the Blackall Range we live on that was primarily responsible for the water that raged through Brisbane to kick-start the year.  My sister bunkered down as Cyclone Yasi tore through North Queensland with unprecedented force.  Then we had the Christchurch Earthquake.

Then on Friday the devastation of the Japanese earthquake while on the other side of the globe Libya descends into a bloody civil war.

Running loosely around my iPod during this time, a kind of fitting soundtrack, is the 1989 hit “It’s Alright” by the Pet Shop Boys.  Released at around the same time the Berlin Wall came crashing down, it also back-ended what seemed a similar period of catastrophic world events, most notably the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.  (On a side note, I’ve been feeling kinda old lately realising I represent a corporate memory of a disaster that happened 25 years ago).

  The opening refrain of It’s Alright has echoes of more modern times.

Dictation being forced in Afghanistan
Revolution in South Africa taking a stand
People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression

Before striking a wistfully optimistic tone:

Generations will come and go (will come and go)
But there’s one thing for sure
Music is our life’s foundation
And shall succeed all the nations to come

(Alright Alright Alright)
‘Cause the music plays forever
(‘Cause it goes on and on and on and on and on)
I hope it’s gonna be alright

Against the current scenes of devastation, the music “playing forever” seems somewhat inadequate, except that there’s a divine element to music, the way it connects at a heart level and can indeed lift (or plunge) mood.

The year three thousand may still come to pass
But the music shall last
I can hear it on a timeless wavelength
Never dissipating but giving us strength

So where is God in all of this?  I’ve found it kinda galling to see one of two reactions from people recently.

1.  The ones suggesting God diverted and/or delayed Cyclone Yasi to minimise its economic impact on the major North Queensland cities of Townsville and Cairns.  Cold comfort indeed for the citizens of Innisfail and Tully who bore the brunt of it.  Are they to believe they’re divine scapegoats?

2.  The others suggesting this run of natural disasters is God trying to capture the attention of humanity.  Again, it’s seems we’re ascribing a fairly blunt instrument to God, wreaking unspeakable devastation on a select few in an attempt to gain the attention of the rest.  If this is the case, it’s pretty bad marketing, trashing the brand of “Creation” to ascribe greater loyalty to it.

Seems to me that humanity could step up to the plate and accept some responsibility here.  Ever wondered what the Earth would have been like without “the Fall” and we’d retained all our faculties and gone about our mandate of population and subjugation of creation in perfection?  Neuroscientists tell us we only use 10-15% of our brain capacity – is that 85% something we turned off to follow our own agenda?

Is it really God’s fault that we’ve built major population areas around the volatile “ring of fire” rimming the continental plates?  That we’ve so dumbed down the faculties He gave us that we build shoddy sub-standard structure that can’t stand up to the rigours of life on earth?

The one thing about these disasters is they generally prove the incredibly resilience of humankind to survive, bounce back and rebuild.  But do we ever consider that they also expose just how far wrong we’ve gone as people.  How hard we make things for ourselves?

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