Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Devil in Us All

More people than not have heard the comments made by Pat Robertson that Haiti was receiving Divine retribution for a Satanic covenant made centuries ago. This is not the first time Robertson has attributed natural or man-made disasters to God's wrath. He and Jerry Falwell agreed that 9/11 was due to "abortionists" and the "gays". He claimed that the tsunami in 2004 was due to the Muslim influence in the area. Finally, he claimed that the suffering of Hurricane Katrina was due to the sinful nature of New Orleans, although the "sinful" French Quarter was mostly untouched and it was the poverty stricken 9th Ward that received the brunt of the devastation.

This pseudo-theodicy is nothing new. It seems that every time a major disaster hits someone is there blaming it on God's wrath or a curse by Satan. (It is funny that their god and their Satan do the same work.) Is extreme poverty, starvation, and death a result of God's anger or Satanic involvement? No, of course not. It was a perfect storm of natural phenomenon, population density, and extreme poverty. It is not the Devil himself, but in a lot of ways it is the devil within us all. It is the demon of selfishness and greed. It is the demon of oppression first by nations seeking riches and colonies and no by corporations seeking cheap labor and resources. It is the demon of looking the other way until it is on every news channel, newspaper, and website. We have ignored, for a large part, the extreme poverty that is 600 miles from our front door. We have ignored the people who are forced to buy cakes made with salt and mud in order to fill their distended bellies.

My prayer is that our new-found concern for Haiti does not end when CNN finds a new lead story. I hope that we realize that this could happen multiple times over in many other places. There are powder kegs of poverty all over the world just waiting for a spark. What is the solution? I really don't know. For know the best thing we can do is pray and send some money to those who can best use it to help the people in need. The United Methodist Committee on Relief was on the ground before this hit (several of those workers are still unaccounted for) and will be there for years after. Please pray for these people, donate what you can, and when you hear someone trying to blame God for this mess, give them a loving correction and let's work together to make sure this never happens again.

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