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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nature's Fury

"Mom, people say when bad weather hits it is "God's fury". Does that mean He is mad at us?"

Oh, from the mouths of babes. A classic moment when the child becomes the teacher in that such questions make us adults think enough to perhaps learn something.

In 2011 we had Hurricane Irene and now we have Hurricane Sandy to contend with as she makes her way up the east coast of the United States. As we prepare for the likelihood of damage and power outages, that question from years back popped into my head. I'm not sure what exactly I had said in response at that time, but with seemingly one natural disaster after another, it does make one ponder life in general.

 The human race has always interpreted such life events with various explanations:
Have we always had such catastrophic weather but now with the media we are notified and caught up in every bit of news about climate changes all over the world?
Are we humans the cause of the chaos by upsetting our ecosystem?
Has God had enough of our messing up His creation and sending us a clear message of the consequences?

Out of curiosity I looked up man's history of thinking about such events.

Prior to 1500 BC world events were governed by the gods of a particular religion or mythology. Everything in nature contains a spirit and the earth is like a Great Mother. Prayer and sacrifices were made in efforts to make life a bit easier.

Classical Greece (400 - 100 BC) brought us Aristotle and Plato who established the foundation for the development of science and the traditions of the western world.

By Medieveal times (400 - 1400 AD) a Christian God reigned over everything. Life was a strict hierarchy where God ruled at the top with children and animals at the very bottom. The "Will of God" was paramount; what the Church dictated was how life was or the person suffered the consequences. Human actions were not explained, only judged as good or evil. God was feared in the literal sense. When bad things happened people felt somehow they deserved to be punished.

During the Renaissance (1500 - 1850 AD), God was still to be behind everything and set things in motion, but science provided an objective view of the universe. By the late 19th century all spiritual forces were removed from the universe and everything was explained objectively through science.
Since nature was thought to have no meaning, it was common thought to exploit it for whatever it was worth to enhance the life of humans. It was thought that technology could solve all of our problems.
As people became more literate and had access to reading material they began to think for themselves about matters of spirituality and behavior.

So as our population has grown to nearly seven billion people, we can now deal with the consequences of our actions and try to clean things up and find alternative sources of energy to fuel our modern wants and needs.

Christians today feel they can have a personal relationship with God and the term 'fearful' not to be interpreted literally, but rather a matter of respect and awe.

To interpret our weather patterns as God's way of punishing us is not the mainstream thought in today's modern thinking. We may jokingly kid about "God's fury" but few of us really believe we humans are a central focus to the point that even the weather revolves around us.

It makes more sense that the weather patterns are along Newton's thinking. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The goal of mother nature is to survive and if at all possible she will amidst consequence and change. How we as a species have to adapt to survive that change, only time will tell.

Life is what it is. Take the advice of Harold Kushner, the Conservative rabbi who wrote the book, "When Bad Things Happen To Good People". Stuff happens.
The trick to not getting down is to not expect life to be smooth sailing, things just happen and we have to deal with them.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

One thing we as a society should learn is not to put ourselves in the position to be totally helpless should the system break down. We as a culture are so intertwined that our daily lives seem to come to an absolute halt when the power goes out. We are so dependent on electricity to power our lights, water pumps, phone chargers, internet service, etc. that many feel helpless and cut off when suddenly without these services.

 Throughout history man has known how to survive by making do, doing without and utilizing skills of survival so they can be self-sustaining when need be.  Plan ahead for emergencies. Use a generator for back up power or have a place to go for a few days. Have a secondary heat source such as a wood, coal or pellet stove. In the event you can't get to the grocery store, know how to prepare your own meals from scratch, bake your own bread, stock up on things like bottled water, dry milk, canned goods, dry goods, batteries and candles. If you garden, learn how put up the surplus fruits and vegetables by canning, freezing or drying.

Remember the Boy Scout motto..."Be Prepared"
And also remember my mother's motto..."This too shall pass."

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