Tag Archives: earthquake

Japanese tsunami hits

Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown—what’s next?

Japanese tsunami hits

Destroying everything in its path

Massive earthquake, monster tsunami, nuclear disaster! I was listening on the CBC Radio One to an interview with the Japanese ambassador to Canada. He said his country could be likened to a supermarket for disasters.

The posted online videos of these Japanese disasters are astounding. One such video taken by someone who had fled for safety to the high ground behind his village, captured the event and its emotion. There, setting up his video camera on a tripod, the videographer captured the onslaught of the tsunami as it relentlessly swallowed up his village below. The Japanese tend to be a reserved, stoic people. But even they were moved by the horror unfolding before their very eyes. The camera’s microphone captured their gasps and cries of astonishment and pain from the group of survivors, watching everything below them that they cherished being destroyed by the tsunami’s irresistible power. Their sense of loss must have been incalculable.

We, post-moderns, tend to take a lot for granted. We think tomorrow will be just like today—only better! As such, we tend to be a very self-confident, self-assured bunch. So when such a disaster befalls people who drive cars like we do, who dress like we dress, who enjoyed a prosperous Western life like we enjoy, somewhere in the backs of our minds we feel uneasy. We feel a bit unsettled. Maybe we even sense our own lack permanence or stability when faced with death and destruction on such a massive scale.

What should be our perspective on the uncertain, temporary nature of life on a planet made up of shifting tectonic plates? The Bible would encourage us to seriously reflect on the big picture—the true picture—about just what is important in life.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16 New Living Translation).

The values being pushed by our mass media are almost entirely focused on acquiring physical stuff and physical pleasure. However, the present disaster in Japan ought to give you and me some pause to reflect on one of Jesus’ most important teachings directed at this generation:

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).


Will our hundreds of millions help Haiti?

This week Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper and French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Haiti to pledge, together, more than half a billion dollars in aid for the earthquake devastated Caribbean nation. Will this money make much of a difference in the lives of desperately impoverished Haitians? Will Haiti’s future get better due to the outpouring of help from Canada, the U.S., France, and other concerned nations?

NOT LIKELY according to one knowledgeable “free market do-gooder” who visits the various hell-holes on this planet. Doug Casey of the Casey Research financial newsletter believes that it doesn’t matter how much aid you shovel down Haiti’s bottomless pit, the long-term outlook for average Haitians will remain grim. Oh yes, today’s flow of aid will alleviate temporarily some suffering. A band-aid, a bottle of water, or a gangrenous leg cut off today is better than no help at all. But Casey predicts that utterly ruthless Haitian officials will siphon off into their secret bank accounts most of our well-intentioned donations.

For most of its tragic history Haiti has been run as a kleptocracy—where the power of the state has proven the most efficient means of stealing from the people. According to Casey, the very idea of putting the Haitian government in charge of rebuilding the place is “insane.” Casey must find some dark ironic humour in the news that Canada’s government proposes to rebuild a “banana republic without bananas” headquarters complex while France’s government offers to give the kleptocrats $40 million to help support their budget (lifestyle). After all, we’re talking about strengthening the power and position of a circle of bureaucrats who have reduced their fellow countrymen to utter poverty by corruption and oppression in order to selfishly enrich themselves. If you want to read Doug Casey’s full interview about the reasons behind Haiti’s poverty, then go to Conversations with Casey at http://www.caseyresearch.com/displayCwc.php?id=38.

Sadly, the problems in Haiti are nothing new in human experience. The issue of poor and/or corrupt human governance has long brought difficulties on everyday people. The Scriptures have something important to say that applies specifically to Haiti’s situation!

When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it—But it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out. The wicked who oppress the poor are like a hailstorm that beats down the harvest. If you desert God’s law, you’re free to embrace depravity; if you love God’s law, you fight for it tooth and nail (Proverbs 28:2-4 The Message translation).

Of course, considering the current financial situation and political challenges facing the Western democratic governments right now, what are the real qualities of leadership that are needed for public service in not only Haiti, but also Canada, the U.S., and France?

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain’ (2 Samuel 23:3-4 NKJV).

The ideal of good government carried out to benefit the governed as expressed above is entirely possible. Men can govern correctly—but it does take a knowledge of the moral logic of this universe and the personal commitment and discipline to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. In the 21st Century when we think of King David of ancient Israel we tend to think of his personal bravery fighting the giant Goliath (whose name, by the way, was recently found etched on a potsherd discovered in an official archaeological dig) or perhaps his affair with Bathsheba. But for his contemporaries, what really made an impression on them was how David organized and ran his government and its legal system:

David ruled over the whole nation of Israel. He did what was fair and right for all of his people (1 Chronicles 18:14 New International Reader’s Version).

If we all had rulers who really cared for us, who were incorruptible, and who always acted in the public’s interest, who were motivated to ensure justice and fairness for all, then how our world and personal lives would be different today.  Only when such fair and right-doing people finally occupy positions of leadership in Haiti will it have a real hope instead of today’s faint-hope that somehow a few of the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid will actually end up being spent to help them.


Haiti’s tragedy: what does it mean?

January 18, 2010

By Jeff Patton

The news stories about the effects and aftermath of the monster earthquake in Haiti make for sober reflection. The best word to describe Haiti’s present situation is “tragic.” The current calamity, however, seems just the latest episode in a national tale of gruesome violence, oppression, missed opportunities, hardships, poverty, and heartbreak for the 206-year-old republic. What was once one of the richest places on Earth, “the Pearl of the Antilles,” is now one of the most destitute.

Haitians, who are mostly a deeply religious people (the majority practice a mixture of Roman Catholicism and African Voodoo), see the hand of God in their destruction. Many Haitian religious leaders say they believe that God wants them to change. Some place the emphasis on God’s judgment on their notoriously corrupt ruling elite. Others take a more apocalyptic perspective proclaiming the “end of the world is near.” Some, embittered by their losses, struggle to understand how God could do this to them, or draw the conclusion that “there is no God.”

What are we to make of such a tragedy, religiously speaking?

The fact is that human life on this Earth is fragile, rather short, and subject to all sorts of tragedies. Jesus of Nazareth made this point when it comes to untimely death and suffering:

“4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them—do you think that they were more guilty offenders (debtors) than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally” (Luke 12:4-5, Amplified Bible).

Jesus’ point is that we should put first things first. One of the constant refrains of His teaching was that we should seek to practice on a daily basis the spiritual values and righteous lifestyle taught by the Bible.  Prayer is an important part of a godly lifestyle. Jesus specifically mentioned in the famous “Our Father” model prayer that we should pray:

“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from evil,” (Matthew 6:13 NRSV).

Truly we have a great need to remember this point because this current society and physical world in which we now live is full of serious dangers. Jesus said so! He even prophesied that these troubles would get much worse before they get better. Notice the type of problems that we can expect:

“6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:6-8 NLT).

It makes no sense to say there is no God when the bad things He predicts come to pass! Our present age is not a godly one. In fact one can properly say this is a rebellious age that makes a show of worshiping God while insisting on doing its own thing. In most of the Western world our actual practice embraces the twin idols of materialism and sexual immorality. Still, we want to look good on a token scale and appear “spiritual.” But we don’t want to do good every day of the week in every aspect of our lives. We, the Canadian people, are not better, morally speaking, than the Haitians. We are not immune from disasters and suffering on a Haitian scale. We need to change our minds and amend our ways or we, too, will likewise perish.