Monday, March 28, 2011

Making Sense of Tragedy

 
 Buddha statue among the rubble in Kesennuma, Japan

"Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

The only sense to make of tragedies like this is that terrible things can happen to perfectly innocent people. This understanding inspires compassion.

Religious faith, on the other hand, erodes compassion. Thoughts like, “this might be all part of God’s plan,” or “there are no accidents in life,” or “everyone on some level gets what he or she deserves” - these ideas are not only stupid, they are extraordinarily callous. They are nothing more than a childish refusal to connect with the suffering of other human beings. It is time to grow up and let our hearts break at moments like this." - Sam Harris

"Proud of their secular society, most Japanese aren't religious in the way Americans are: They tend not to identify with a single tradition nor study religious texts. The average Japanese person doesn’t consciously turn to Buddhism until there’s a funeral.

In the days and weeks ahead, huge numbers of Japanese will be turning to their country’s religious traditions as they mourn the thousands of dead and try to muster the strength and resources to rebuild amid the massive destruction wrought by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the resulting tsunami." - Dan Gilgoff

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated