In this time of turmoil I am torn. There is so much death, so much destruction, so much devastation; it is more than the human mind might imagine. Yet, for me, the death and destruction that natural disasters cause is not nearly as confusing as that which humans inflict upon each other. We humans inflict pain upon each other in many manners. We impose pain that is physical and pain that is psychological. We cause pain when we destroy, devastate, create debt, and do not deliver.
An aside: Sadly, it seems that we often believe that we give more then we do. The contrast between what we believe we bestow upon others and what we do differs. In recent days, there have been numerous discussions of this discrepancy. Mostly, the focus is on charitable contributions. In America, it seems that many think that their country is the most magnanimous. Yet, while the intentions may be wonderful, the actions often do not reflect these. Apparently, this can be a personal truth and one that is public policy. America allocates less than one percent of its’ budget to Foreign Assistance. The distribution of these funds is not as many of us might believe. There is a stark contrast between those for diplomacy, those for defense, and those set aside for natural disasters.
Please read and reflect upon the Overview of United States Foreign Aid Budget. Pages 19 and 22 may be of interest.
While natural disasters destroy, devastate, and bring about debt, they deliver. They deliver life in a loving manner. Natural disasters cause us to evaluate, to create, to build, and to do it all better than we had done before. Natural disasters cause people to build physical bridges over land and sea; they also cause people to build bridges and bonds with each other. People torn asunder long ago, and remaining so for decades, come together during natural disasters. People living in abject poverty, and given little or no attention, little or no assistance during the “good” times, are helped during natural disasters. People that prefer to ignore the poor, the needy, the deprived, and the destitute, view these same persons differently when they become survivors of a natural disaster.
Communities and countries extend financial assistance during natural disasters. Even when the giving of the money causes the giver debt, people are willing and wanting to give; they are willing and wanting to spend time and money. They want to extend themselves, to extend their hands and their hearts, and ultimately, they do. While they may initially hesitate for any and many reasons, hearts, minds, and pocketbooks do open. The money is well spent, well meant, and well worth the debt. For what is created from this flow of cash comes back, and back, and back again. This debt, serves, satisfies, and supplies such meaning. This debt is not truly debt; it is true devotion.
Yet, for me, in this time of ample destruction, devastation, and debt, our devotion is in question. Will we deliver? Currently, there is death and destruction on many fronts, some imposed by man, some imposed by nature. We have committed ourselves to contributing to each. Yet, I wonder. There are numerous reports that, in the past, money that was committed during a natural disaster did not come in full. However, money that was and is committed for war flows freely. This truth causes me turmoil!
We claim to be devoted to principles, purposes, to profundity, and or to the powers that be and yet, our actions, more accurately, our reactions demonstrate that we are not, at least not always. We claim our devotion to good, to love, to peace, to sharing prosperity equally; we claim to be devoted to our ideas or to the ideal. Some claim a devotion to God, to Allah, to the Almighty, to Mohammed, to the Lord Jesus, to Hashem, or to Buddha. Each of these espouses equity, empathy, honor, and harmony and yet, though we often say that we believe in these, we do not always act as though we do.
In times of natural disaster, we state our care and our concern. We commit ourselves; we declare that we will contribute. We promise to provide cash. We volunteer to send medicine to cure the ills that occur under circumstances such as these. We commit to reconstruction; we realize the need for homes, hospitals, and schools. Yet, while we often begin these projects and intend to extend, as time goes on, as the extent of destruction and the devastation from a natural disaster fades from the minds of those far away, those at a [physical or emotional] distance, they/we no longer choose to deliver.
We focus on what we prefer, what we incite, what we instigate, and what we are intent upon. Often these are our wars. When we opt to war, we freely offer funding. The destruction and devastation of war causes great debt, yet this debt does not flow back in the form of human kindness and growth. Yet, when we war, we deliver. Funds sent to a war effort are more stable then those sent to assist after a natural disaster. We are willing and do invest funds more freely when the intent is destruction. Funds intended for construction do not flourish.
It is for this reason that I ask; how can we say that we will support the survivors of earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunamis, and when often, we do not fulfill our commitments, fully? Possibly this time will be different, however history often repeats itself. We may wish to believe that we learn from the past, yet, there are centuries of evidence to support that often we do not.
We fought the war to end all wars, twice, and we all know that we may live to fight it again. History repeats. We commit to the principles of love and devotion, over, and over, and over again. Then we war, we wound, and we wield weapons, vowing never to do this again. History repeats. We actively work for peace then continually cause conflict. We do this repeatedly in our personal, professional, and political lives. History repeats. Therefore, I ask, this time, may we learn from our past? May we do as pledged and as we promised? May we lessen the turmoil that tragedy can bring and begin to build in ways that we never have? May we not repeat history, at least this time? May we experience destruction, devastation, and debt, during a natural disaster and still choose to deliver?