16
May
08

The Skewed American Perspective of Disasters

In the United States last weekend, there were around 25 people who lost their lives in the horrible tornadoes that hit Oklahoma, Missouri and North Carolina.  To us in this country that seems like a high number and arouses great sorrow and empathy for those affected, which it should, for they were our fellow citizens and countrymen and women.

In Burma, no one will ever know how many people lost their lives in the cyclone catastrophe and ensuing mess brought on by the government’s failure to allow relief supplies and workers into the country.   Despite the howls of despair from all around the world, those in charge of that country made decisions to protect their own power even if it meant the suffering and death of its countrymen and women.

A few years ago, the incredible earthquake in China would have been handled in the same manner Burma has handled the cyclone.  The world would have known few details of the scope of the disaster and national pride would have not allowed any outsiders to come into the country to help.  Now that China is a world power, there is no longer the need for secrecy and strict government control over everything.  Thus, the world is able to see, to a limited degree, just how devastating the earthquake and continued aftershocks are.

When all is said and done, there will probably be between 50,000 to 100,000 thousand people perish in both the Burma cyclone and the China earthquake.  Estimates of 2 ½ million homeless people in Burma are probably accurate.  No one knows how many people lost their homes in China.  What is known is that perhaps never in history have there been back to back disasters of such magnitude happen within a week of each other and so near each other geographically. 

To put these disasters in perspective all one needs to do is think in terms of our United States of America.  The number of people left homeless in Burma roughly equals the population of Chicago, Illinois.  Can you imagine the response if suddenly lake Michigan sprung a leak and flooded the entire city of Chicago?  Can you imagine the incredible problems resulting from having 2 ½ million people suddenly without a place to live or a job to work at?

Everyone who follows NFL football has heard of the Green Bay Packers.  The population of Green Bay, Wisconsin is right at 100,000.  Can you imagine the impact it would have if suddenly the entire population of Green Bay were killed by a meteor falling from the sky?  The shock of losing that many people all at once would throw the country into a state of depression and utter helplessness.

In the United States, if 25 people die from a flaw in a product, the company is forced to do a re-call to fix the problem even if it forces them out of business.  In many countries of the world, 25 people could die and literally no one would know or care except the immediate family.  In the United States one of the biggest problems is finding space for landfills to bury the tons and tons of waste thrown away each day by millions of families.  In most countries of the world there are no landfills for there is no waste.

In the United States, if Lake Michigan flooded Chicago, there would actually be headlines in sports sections of newspapers lamenting the season ending for the Cubs or White Sox.  If Green Bay vanished the headlines would lament there no longer being any Packers to play on Sundays any more.  We have a warped view of life in this country brought about by our lack of any huge disasters ever plaguing our country along with the abundance of wealth and leisure time.

Whatever good has come from this, it has bred ignorance and a skewed perspective towards those places which do have to deal with overwhelming disasters.  There is simply no way Americans can relate to images such as have come out of China.  Our earthquakes have never brought about such devastation and loss of life.  Americans cannot relate to Burma because they remember Katrina and how in spite of terrible mistakes made along the way, still only a few thousand people lost their lives from the storm.  It is simply inconceivable for Americans to fathom the scope of destruction such as in Burma.

God blessed, protected and spared America from having to deal with the kind of catastrophes we have seen the past two weeks in Asia.  God has protected and spared America from ever having enemy soldiers tred on her soil.  America never has had to endure a war such as World War I or II in Europe.  God has protected and spared America from the combination of natural and political disasters such as have plagued Africa for centuries.  Americans have no clue what it means to live in a land with 125,000% inflation or a government devoted to the destruction of half the population.

America has had its fair share of problems and has suffered the consequences of them.  The Civil War still produced more causalities than any other war fought in or by this country.  America is still reeling from its sins of slavery and discrimination.  America is far from perfect and millions of its citizens are suffering in hellholes called inner city slums.  Yet, America has remained largely immune from the levels of pain, suffering and death that grip many other countries in this world.  Why, because God blessed America for the giving heart she used have.

Americans still race to disasters, whether down the block or around the world, but for everyone who still runs to help, there are 100 who sit at home and either “think about helping” or complain that others do.  Americans still open their wallets and give many dollars to help those who have lost everything, but those dollars don’t buy much anymore and most Americans give out of compulsion not out of true compassion.

God blessed America as no nation ever was blessed in the history of man.  But, I fear America has become lost and disoriented like a drunken sailor.  Her excesses have caused her to be bloated and unable to respond to situations quickly as she used to.  Her compromises on one Godly principle after another have caused God to take His mighty hand of blessing off her and leave her to her own devices.  Evil and self-serving people have swooped in to fill the void left by the removal of God’s hand.  Those very people now run America and are driving her straight to hell itself.

We cannot save America but we can help save the neighbor next door.  We cannot undo what has happened in this country but we can undo error in our own lives and help others do the same.  We cannot stop whatever has happened and is going to happen environmentally or politically in this country or world, but we can stop the apathy or fear that causes inaction or retreat.  We cannot change the world but we can, with God’s help, change ourselves to be fully equipped to handle whatever the future holds.  If there ever was a time in history God needs His people to arise and stand it is now.

 

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