Man-Made Disasters or Angry Planet?
This text was first published early in 2011 as a part of a much larger article prompted by the number of massively devastating events that had recently come to pass in quick succession:
- Followed within minutes by an epic tsunami, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit japan
- The uncontrollable blowout of Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent, catastrophic oil spill
- The eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökul
- The massive freak waves that battered La Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France – my hometown
- The devastating wild fires that engulfed regions of rural Australia where I reside while massive rain falls flooded others.
In the period of 2010/2011, similar events occurred from America to Europe and beyond.
What has changed since?
Serious question: in which way, if any, have the concerns expressed in the text below become dated by now, in 2017?
It only took a couple of hours for that disaster of biblical proportions to claim more than 16000 lives and cost the Japanese economy US$235 billion.
Time Magazine writer, Nancy Gibbs, reminded us of the obvious: “No amount of planning, no skills or specs or spreadsheets, can stop a force that moves the planet." 
Similar in scope and degree of severity was Typhoon Haiyan which took 6,183 lives, and affected a further 11 million people when it struck the Philippines in late 2013 – all while looters spread their rampage far and wide.
Sadly, looters, like arsonists, are an integral part of every local culture.
They are our neighbours, our fathers and mothers, our brothers and uncles. They illustrate the nastiness of the Me/Mine First modus operandi.
1. Nancy Gibbs, The Day The Earth Moved, Time Magazine, Mar. 28, 2011
As we have become at times desensitized to violence and poverty, we risk becoming desensitized to the regular newsflashes alerting us to more Nature-made heartbreaks. Beyond ranking and comparing setbacks and catastrophes and their impact on us, it is important to understand that, while much of this may be due to global warming, we should understand how collectively we have been contributing to the so-called unpredictable vagaries of life and weather. We, aware people, should now interpret it as a global warning – karma awaits.
It's Up to You, Karma
Of course, we are in charge of our lives and of our plans, but only as long as our individual karma does not present us with a personal event such as the ‘freakish’ mishap that happened an hour away, today, on the nearby Gold Coast as, “spectators ran for their lives when two cars collided and flipped into the crowd during a support race at the V8 Supercars in Queensland today.”
Its mission - one we cannot rfuse
Its mission: to push us well-beyond our comfort zones – to break us down so we can rebuild ourselves.
Until we do understand that nothing ‘just happens’, and until we implement many, many intentions and plans to earnestly address what needs to be redressed from the inside-out, the deadly and costly roll-out of catastrophes and disasters will keep rolling us over.
Prompted by the 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökul, I began tracking the acts of nature during that year and what follows is a deconstruction of various disaster benchmarks, as I became aware of them during the course of that year.
Nature Ratchets It up For Our Benefit
Nature ratchets it up yet another notch in severity when she tries to rein us back into thoughtfulness by creating events, acts of gods, as some call them for lack of a better explanation, that temporarily strip us of our livelihood and our home, and set back the regional and/or national economy.
These are the heart-breaking opportunities designed to rewire our hearts by forcing us to rethink our priorities and our thinking, just as we rewire and reroof our homes and businesses after a super-cell storm or after a cordon of raging fires have finished their dance across our land.
During such interventions by Nature, property is often destroyed on a large scale, animals die in massive numbers and horrible circumstances, but comparatively few human lives are lost.
Again, Nature’s objective, like that of a caring mother, is not to hurt for hurt’s-sake, let alone to kill us, but to make us sit up, bond in our shared sorrow and hardship to come out of it stronger, better, different - from the inside-out.
Nature is powerful and all knowing, but there are times when she assumes that extreme catastrophes such as that wrought by the combined effort of the earthquake that shook the Japanese Pacific coast of Tōhoku, in 2011, accompanied by a tsunami will be the periodic heads-up we need to finally take her - and our personal response system - a lot more seriously.
Lid Blown On What’s Brewing Below
December 1, 2010 – but still extremely current.
Not many of us will ever forget how, back in May, from a cold parcel of land that has seldom generated news of apparent international interest, came chaos of such magnitude that it revealed how truly un-omnipotent we are, as a civilization. Sleeping Giant or Menacing Mammoth, Eyjafjallajökul, the volcano got our attention.
What with our military might, our control of air and sea, our ease with the virtual realities accessed through digital technologies, the power to dig deep into the earth and reach beyond the clouds, it has been easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we, in the western world, were in charge of the planet, if not of our destiny.
Hovering Dark Shadow
In the absence of grand acts of terrorism, international movers and shakers with our presidents and prime ministers slashing paths through one financial crisis to another and strings of wars cloned from the one to the next, from pro-Human Rights activism in one area to a blind disregard of Human Rights in another – often but not always in another land – we did have reasons for thinking that collectively, we had executive control over our work and holiday plans and, by proxy, a degree of control over the economy of our respective countries.
Quick insert: of course, now, in 2017, six years after this article was first published ... we are all well acquaintance with the long shadow of terror that hovers over many places most familiar to us - wherever we happen to live - not to mention the terror known to refugees fleeing for their lives.
From Moriya - my teacher
Already back in 2006, in the early days of our correspondence, Moriya, my spiritual teacher, was explaining how all aspects of Nature are not only essential to our survival as a species, but also always neutral.
Fire is neutral, she explained. We cannot live without fire in the 21st century any more than cave dwellers could. Fire stimulates growth and maintains various ecosystems. Fire cooks our food, keeps us warm and stokes many an engine.
Yes, fire does have a flip side, but it is one that we individually slap on its back by misusing it daily and by building residential areas where none should ever be built.
Fire is neither good nor bad, it just is. Same with sunlight. We cannot live without it. Our body need its vitamin D just as our mind needs its cheerful warmth. When we abuse sun light, our body reacts to it by creating melanomas, but sunlight is neutral, it just is. It is the same sunlight that is as inherent to droughts as to crops maturing.
We curse rain one day and we pray for rain the next. Rain is neutral. It just is, even when it becomes torrential and forces rivers to break their banks - even when it floods towns. If town-planners go about their planning with conflicting priorities, that is not rain’s fault.
Anyone who has lived more than a week in a drought-stricken area will testify how absolutely essential rain is to all that is alive, not only to sentient beings.
Even Love is Known to Turn
One day, Moriya explained Nature to me just as she explained Love.
Love is love but when we mishandle this love by turning it into a possession/obsession, we alter its very nature and like the mad alchemist, we turn it into bitterness, even bitter hatred.
Similarly, the mishandled love of a god can turn to a fanaticism that excludes all reasonable thinking.
We forget about the duality of the physical world, and when we try to separate one attribute from the rest, its evil twin perks up.
Moriya also explained how every action triggers a counter action - a reaction. There are no exceptions to this rule.
- If we pull back a branch to get through a forest trail, we should be mindful of how that branch will snap back into its original shape.
- If we prune a branch, it will grow back producing many new branches.
- If we do not water a plant, it will die.
- If we merely tap the surface of a pond with our hand, we will create ripples.
- If we throw a rock into a pond, we will create a splash.
- If we let anxiety, anger or bitterness rule our emotions, we invite the possibility of cancer or other maladies into our cells.
- If we chose to reduce the natural side effects of menopause by taking HRT, or if we try limiting the risks of cervical cancer or of catching the latest strain of the Influenza virus by taking a vaccine, we invite in much worse, chemically induced side effects.
And the list goes on and on. This list is as endless as all our combined efforts to manipulate our moods, our lives, each other, our society, and the world beyond.
There is no such thing as an action that does not trigger a reaction.
The duality we experience within the physical world is as inescapable as the duality that reverberates to and fro from the physical to the spiritual.
Psychological fears are unhelpful as they play with our imagination and taint the context – the present moment.
Fear is good when we fear Nature's eruptions or a wild sea or when trekking solo in the wilderness – or when flying through the plume of Eyjafjallajökul or, I suspect, when our lives have us anchored anywhere on the glacier.
Wind = Life
“Wind is the symbol of life on Earth. Without it there would be no life on our planet,” Moriya wrote in an essay I published on her behalf in 2009, alongside my own, since she has never been interested in garnering any sort of attention for herself. “When the wind blows gently, it inspires softness, tenderness and evokes the feeling of a loving, comforting caress. Even the leaf won’t fall off its tree.
But when the wind blows hard, it uproots trees and destroys homes. It brings along dark clouds that release heavy rains that flood the ground, as if all of Nature's forces were united into one entity aiming to cleanse earth from some of the filth that has stuck to her from time immemorial. Walking the spiritual Path is difficult because the persona needs to change her mechanical behavior by letting go and by surrendering to Soul.”
Sleeping Giants Awaken
A couple of years ago I wrote two articles about the constant stream of symbolic messages that each one of us gets from our soul during our wakeful moments.
The first article, Spirituality in Real time, was followed by an essay/glossary mix entitled Making Meaning. Both go a long way towards explaining how each one of us, members of the human species, is connected to nature and to the spiritual realm whether we know it or not – whether we choose to plead ignorant.
So, whether we see Eyjafjallajökul, the Icelandic volcano, as a ‘Sleeping Giant’, a ‘Menacing Mammoth’ or simply the Island’s Mountain, all terms attributed to it, it is important to open our mind – and our hearts – to an alternative explanation as to why the sleeping giant beneath glacial ice became a menacing mammoth waving a massive, glass-rich plume some eight kilometres high that pierced the sky.
Let's Rethinking - sooner rather than Later
Scientists, by now, have a neat explanation as to why the fissures happened as they did and when they did, but like most observers, scientists can only deal with effects they can see, test, weigh, measure and record, which leaves out the cause, the real cause that set the first event into motion – the first domino.
The alternative explanation put attempted here as to why an explosion of such magnitude seems to have come out of the blue yonder has nothing to do with an ominous warning about the eminent end of the world in 2012 or at any time.
What it does usher in is the urgent need for each one of us who makes up the greatest herd on earth, over six billion strong, adepts of the mass culture such as we know it, to rethink thinking – and to rethink it sooner rather than later.