Making Waves

Album Cover: Crash

"You wear nothing, but you wear it so well."
Dave Matthews Band / Crash Into Me

Posted on October 10, 2005 1:00 AM in Blathery
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night when Salman Rushdie made the point that, and I'm paraphrasing here, "God seems a little cranky lately." Putting it that way may seem to lack a little bit of sensibility when you think of all the lives that have been lost over the past year – over 230,000 in the Indian Ocean tsunami, over 1,200 in Hurricane Katrina and now an estimated 20,000-30,000 people in the recent earthquake in Pakistan.

However, I think Salman makes a good point. In America, the 2005 hurricane season has arguably been one of the worst in recorded history, and much more monumental catastrophes like the aforementioned tsunami and earthquake have quite literally shook the planet. While the religious may be questioning God, whether in humor or earnestness, I am wondering what point Mother Earth is trying to make.

Are human beings the cancer that certain fictitious characters like Agent Smith from The Matrix make us out to be?

The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet...

Agent Smith isn't the only one making such metaphors. Eddie Vedder, who doesn't quite have the whole "fictitious character" thing to fall back on if someone disagrees with him, wrote the following in his lyrics for Pearl Jam's song "Love Boat Captain:"

Is this just another phase?
Earthquakes making waves...
Trying to shake the cancer off?
Stupid human beings...

To be fair to Eddie, he did follow that up with the more optimistic "once you hold the hand of love, it's all surmountable," but the same existential undertones are still there.

There may have been times when I thought of the human race in similar ways, but there have also been times when I've thought of some of the powerful stories that have emerged from these tragedies. They usually come from the most unexpected places and from the most unexpected people.

There are many lessons to be learned from these natural disasters, and I think it all depends on your view of the world.

If you're strongly into or avidly against warfare, you might see them as a reminder that Mother Nature has a way of flanking us, outsmarting us, and defeating us on a whim whenever She so pleases.

If you're into politics, you might see these disasters as an excuse to start pointing fingers and blaming those who did not have the foresight to plan and prepare.

If you are focused on the fine print and the details of life, you might see them as a reminder to step back and appreciate the bigger picture.

And if you're a geeky blogger who has had his fill of carrots and ranch dressing and is ready to head off to bed for the night, you might see them as a reminder that every single football game, kiss from your girlfriend, call from a loved one or chance to wake up happy in the morning is a blessing that, regardless of who or where it came from, should never be taken for granted.


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