January 19, 2010 § 47 Comments
Our universe is a place of massive physical forces, and given the microscopic size of humanity in the scale of it all, it’s not surprising that we get caught up in the midst of these forces. And when we do, lives and infrastructure are lost on a relatively massive scale.
In 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, caused by a massive earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, causing massive devastation of homes and communities, and taking more than 230,000 lives in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and The Maldives. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina took 1,836 lives due to one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit United States soil. In September of 2009, the island of Samoa was hit by an earthquake, and a resulting tsunami which claimed the lives of at least 189 people, and injuring hundreds more. And these are just a few of the more recent events that come to mind. There are plenty more examples where communities have been devastated by natural disasters, one look at this list of natural disasters by death-toll will give you some perspective on what sorts of disasters and the numbers of lives we’re dealing with here. It’s devastating…
These natural disasters have a few things in common:
- All involved the deaths of innocent people
- All involved massive amounts of suffering
- All destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of people
- All took a very long time to repair damage
- Not all damage can be repaired
- None of them were caused by God
I know this last point is without anything to back it up, but given that we call it a “natural” disaster, it infers happening without the intervention of an “all-powerful being”. (They also call these “Acts Of God” but this is an antiquated saying, only used in insurance policies and in hate-speeches by the overly religious.)
While the latest disaster is on most people’s minds, secular or religious, we all seem to find it within ourselves to want to help where we can. Most aid organisations send food, medical supplies and people to help restore infrastructure and bring the stricken area back up from the brink of total annihilation. Some, believe it or not, send bibles.
I’m not going to get into a debate about the value of faith in a situation when everything else is lost, that is not my point at all. What I do see is an opportunistic preying, where religious groups see a chance to spread the word further RATHER THAN HELPING WITH FOOD AND SHELTER.
So it was with a heavy heart when I read the article Portable hospital and medical staff blocked from landing at Port au Prince airport fromThe British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management. That is really unfortunate.
I want to know, what type of backward planet are we living in where this kind of man-made injustice is served to those most in need? The decision in the first place to send bibles instead of real needed supplies is perverse. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
But the last line of that article sums up my point “Tens of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents are living outdoors because their homes have collapsed or they fear aftershocks following Wednesday’s quake.”
UPDATE – I have received a number of negative comments on this post. My main point here is INTENDED to be, “lets put our religious/non-religious agendas aside and send aid that will HELP in the short term. There is plenty of time to send items of comfort/faith items later on.” I know this is a bit of a rant, but it is NOT my intention to exploit the situation to push my agenda, but rather to get people to think, “What would you prefer if you were there? Shelter and food, or a book?” I am sorry to those I have disappointed with my opinions. 😦
Please give secularly, to avoid these problems http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/