There is a Facebook status circulating these days that basically blames New Yorkers, Haitians and now the Japanese people for the disasters that devastated their homes. Apparently the terrorist attack on September 11th, the Haitian earthquake and now this earthquake and tsunami that has killed thousands in Japan are all to punish these people for their sins. Even supposedly intelligent society commentators like Glenn Beck (and yes, I emphasize the word supposedly when I call him intelligent) are getting in on the "God did this because he hates you" bandwagon. Granted, Glenn was smart enough to say that he wasn't saying this, but "he's not not saying it either". But, that cover his ass crap doesn't really mean anything. So, little Glenny and the Facebookers feeling the need to kick a country while they are down, let me just say, your theory is as crapped out as Glenn's grammar.
I am not a religious person. I pray every night with the kids, and I am baptized Catholic... but I didn't even go to church this Christmas so I can't even call myself the "C&E" Catholic that I used to be. My son attends a Christian preschool, and I often plan on attending that same location's church services but my selfish need to sleep in on Sundays always wins out. I've never been to a seminary and I am not expert on the Bible. In fact, I often have to call my brother when Will tells me Bible stories because I need an interpreter to understand why Will thinks we are going to put people in our fiery, fiery furnace. But, I believe in God. I believe in a higher power (yes, Lori, I do, too). And I believe that he doesn't strike thousands dead just to teach us a lesson.
I believe that people like Glenn Beck fuel the fire of hatred to promote themselves and their TV or radio shows. I believe that like the Westboro Baptist Church's rants on homosexuality, Beck's message (a.k.a. load of bull) is hate speech taking advantage of our country's emphasis on free speech. I believe that if anyone is sinning and will feel God's wrath, it is him and others like him that take advantage of the gift of a voice and an audience for the purpose of making others feel small. I believe that God is indeed listening, and I believe that Glenn Beck and his ilk just make God sad.
I believe that the people on Facebook who spread this message are scared. I believe that the idea that a natural disaster can strike anywhere and wipe out a population is a nightmare beyond belief and it is comforting to think that these people somehow had it coming. It is easier to think that it happened to them because of their religion, because then it isn't going to happen to you. But it could. Disasters happen around the globe and to demean the devastation by acting like the people had it coming is disgusting. And, where does it stop? Does that mean the babies killed in the Oklahoma City bombing had it coming, too? What about the elderly people or the 9 year old girl murdered by a mad man in Arizona? Were they sinners, too? How about the nursing home destroyed in a Midwest tornado? Did those elderly people sin and therefore God smited (smote?) them?
Could it be that while this may be God's plan, it is not a punishment for sins? And, is it possible that maybe we just can't understand why the bad things happen to these people, and instead of coming up with justifications, we are just supposed to put our faith in the fact that God's plan is too complex for us to understand. And maybe we should spend a little effort trying to rebuild and comfort those in pain rather than inflicting a second round of terror by saying, "oh yeah, about your dead family... you deserved it." Just maybe instead of promoting God by saying he's punishing those affected, just maybe we could honor him by loving our fellow man... kinda like the way the Bible tells us to. Just a thought.