Monday, November 18, 2013

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” Rabbi Hillel

One of the great things about being involved with Quakers internationally is that you have F/friends all around the world. One side effect of this though is that every time a major disaster happens there's a mad scramble for address lists and googling of maps desperately hoping that everyone you know is safe... it puts a far more personal face on the suffering and makes the news that bit harder to watch. What with the shootings in Nairobi (I'm fairly sure we went past that mall last year, if not it looked very similar but then I guess one shopping mall does look much like another!), bush fires in Australia, the earthquake and now the super typhoon in the Philippines and major tornadoes in the USA it has been a worrying time of late.

Yet again though the wonders of the internet come to the rescue as it is easy for reassurances to be passed along and news shared. So far on all fronts everyone I know directly is at least alive, however several Friends churches are on one of the islands badly hit and without communication so it is a difficult time for those in Manila trying to get news of them. Friends in Bohol have limited electricity, the storms just adding to the chaos of the earthquakes and aftershocks. How much more can their nerves take let alone the infrastructure? My heart goes out to them as they do their bit for the relief work there.

Whilst many of these disasters are caused by the elements and seismic activity the human element in the extent of their damage is frightening. I'm not suggesting human activity is responsible for earthquakes but we are responsible for the buildings and infrastructure we create and how well it withstands the impact, or more to the point doesn't and the resulting loss of life and limb. I don't think anything short of an underground bunker would've survived the typhoons and tornadoes though and living in those permanently would be pretty grim, however there is plenty of evidence around to suggest that our activities are exacerbating changes to our climate. Gareth Morgan has some interesting views on this and backs up Green Party co-leader Russell Norman's speech in parliament which our Govt MPs booed, Yeb Sano himself however put them in their place when he tweeted his thanks to Russell Norman for making the point. As far as Gareth Morgan goes I'm sure plenty C/christians will object to being tarred with the same brush and rightly so, I just hope they speak up and make sure that it is clear that not all people of that faith have their heads in the sand. Given the  recent commitment of five Anglican diocese to divest themselves of self of fossile fuel investments there is hope!

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