Friday, July 28, 2006

Tsunami 2004: Divine Retribution

December 26, 2004 AD had the vacationers in the coastal areas of Indonesia adjacent to the Indian Ocean have their breakfast hours interrupted by an amazing sight. The ocean was retreating from existing shores; almost as if someone had pulled the drain-plug deep beneath the ocean. In a sense, it was true... but only for a very short time. Deep beneath the surface of the ocean, the Indo-Australian continental plate had ground against the Burma plate. The movement of the one plate downwards pulled the waters below, deep beneath the seemingly placid waters. The immediate result was a massive seismic tremor registering an almost unbelievable 9.1 on the Richter Scale. The less immediate result, a Tsunami, that totalled over 220,000 fatalities in Indonesia, India & Sri Lanka together. A large figure even without counting the losses in terms of property, and human experience.

Sometime before the quake, a week or so, a famous Seer in South India was arrested and held under the Penal Laws of India. Scores believed him to be innocent, but a great many also believed there was some basis for the charges under which he was held. The Tsunami was linked to the arrest by his supporters as proof of Divine Retribution.

A year later, the December 2005 issue of the Indian Edition of The Reader's Digest commemorated the anniversary of the Tsunami. This by replacing the bonus section with a series of eyewitness accounts of survivors. Among the several photographs in the issue was high altitude photograph of a place named Meulaboh. Meulaboh had a population of 50,000 humans. With the exception of a mosque, the photograph was devoid of any sign of human construction. Bar the mosque, all structures were razed by the Tsunami. A phenomenon which led people to comment upon the Divine Will. A similar phenomenon [Similar in the sense it also relates to the survival of a construction for a theological purpose against high odds] is the fact that St. Paul's Cathedral in the United Kingdom during the entire course of the Battle for Britain received a Direct Hit during the War, but survives intact.

Before I proceed further, I must make a quick detour on theology. The" gist of Pascal's take on theology is simple.There may, or may not be a God. I may, or may not, believe in him. The only way to lose, is if God exists & I do not believe in him ... thereby earning condemnation to Hell. Therefore, I choose to Believe ; merely to be saved from condemnation to Hell. The argument appears to be selfish, and probably won't endear me to anyone ... but ask yourself, and deep down that voice which always has your well-being in mind will answer you. To the best of my knowledge, which admittedly is limited, most forms of belief have some thing to offer by way of afterlife, or in afterlife. It's an understandable tactic ; if some religious beliefs were able to guarantee a man's desires/aspirations fulfilled within a defined time-frame, they might be taken to court for breach of promise if the time-frame lapsed without the desires fulfilled. Therefore, guarantee that a person's desires to be fulfilled in the afterlife. After all we only hear talk of a few persons return, and none of them seem to have sued... Definitely good for the business..

If every single human had believed and had lived according to the virtues prescribed by various theological texts, a great many events would not have appeared in our History textbooks... perhaps our civilization would be a little different from what it appears to be, but I digress. To get back on the subject, the statement 'believe & be saved' may not be widely accepted as it is. But at some subconscious level, it must register. This is especially so in the case where we humans construct monuments to the God/s of our beliefs. An unscrupulous contractor would not hesitate to save on costs [or more apt, increase his gain] by substituting sand for cement, and use less rebars than required according to the design. The same person, however, will almost certainly think twice before doing the same when constructing a structure for a preternatural. The fear of retribution from a preternatural keeps a great many of us from indulging in actions/speech which may be deemed offensive. Structures made as a form of respect for a character from theology therefore are sturdier and more attention paid during the course of construction. The end result is a structure that is able to better withstand furies of nature, and man-made calamities such as armed conflict ... thereby providing 'proof' of the existence of a God.