©2005 Patrick Rooney
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.
The great majority of the talk I have heard since the great tsunami of 2004 may have missed the most important point of all.
Immediately after this cataclysmic event, we were subjected to many questions, such as which countries were being cheap in their relief support, or was the corrupt United Nations fit to take charge of the humanitarian operation, or why weren’t early warning systems employed, etc.
These are all legitimate and timely questions. Yet there’s another, more ominous question bubbling just under the surface. Not many want to raise the question in this politically correct world. They are afraid of being attacked for speaking of what many are pondering. But if we are to be truly compassionate toward the survivors and our fellow human beings, I believe we must place the question on the table.
There’s an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When things happen in my life, good and bad, I believe they happen for reasons. And there’s always a lesson in there for me. So is there a lesson behind the great tsunami of 2004? Is there anything—spiritually speaking—that could have been done to prevent it?
Can our behavior in any way prevent or minimize future earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and the like? In other words, can our moral—or immoral conduct as the case may be—affect God’s conduct toward us?
If we believe it can, then it’s not a stretch to believe that God can cause “natural disasters” to occur to achieve His purposes. And if we believe that, the logical follow-up question in regards to this tsunami is simply, “Did God do it?”
If we believe the words in the Old Testament, we believe that God can and does destroy via “natural disasters”. From the great flood to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, there’s a great precedence for this, and rational societies have long believed it to be true. To this day, for instance, the phrase “act of God” is used on insurance policies regarding earthquakes, floods, and the like. The fear of God’s potential retribution is very real to many, and most certainly affects the behavior of many millions.
When the subject of God has been broached since this disaster, questions have been asked, such as “Why would a just God allow this?” Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps God didn’t “allow” this, but that he DID it? Which would bring up the next question—“Why?”
See, this is a question most really don’t want to ask, because it intrudes into our personal behavior. The notion that our actions can be right or wrong is one we of the “enlightened” modern world don’t want to contemplate.
There are behavioral areas human beings have no business venturing beyond. But they do. And when they refuse to stop themselves, particularly from abusing the young, and the “good” around them avert their gaze, would it be a stretch to conceive that God could see the need to step in and make a clear statement to those who are guilty, and to those who may be considering following in the guilty’s footsteps?
Interestingly, after the news of thousands upon thousands of deaths, we heard reports that virtually no animals were killed, nor were many “primitive” (relatively uncorrupted) people killed. “Experts” rushed in to explain that animals have a “sixth sense” that allowed them to escape. Yes, that is true, but could it be that the reason that they were not killed was because they were not the intended targets?
I was reading Time magazine’s special report on the tsunami, and was struck by something I saw. I admit to having a kind of fascination with maps, so my eye was immediately drawn to an overview map of “how the deadly waves spread.”
I noticed the red rippled ball on the map signaling the earthquake’s epicenter, which was adjacent to the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Last year, UNICEF sponsored a regional conference in Medan, North Sumatra on child sex trafficking. Reportedly, 400,000 children worldwide, including 70,000 from Indonesia, are being traded and exploited every year, some as young as nine.
One of the conference participants was quoted as saying, “Child trafficking for sexual exploitation in the Asian region is getting out of hand because authorities have not done enough to hinder or bring to justice the perpetrators.”
An article in Inside Indonesia, July—Sept 1999, titled “Flesh Trade of Sumatra” detailed incredible cruelty in brothels there, where girls 14-18 are treated like sexual cattle. Virgins who are free of disease are at a high premium. Tales like the one of the girl whose head was smashed into a wall under the direction of a cruel madam for the sin of refusing to satisfy the passions of a client are apparently not uncommon.
Harsher laws and greater enforcement of those laws was recommended at the UNICEF-sponsored conference, as was greater regional cooperation. Hmmm, greater regional cooperation needed… I can’t help but wonder if there was a divine reason why the surrounding countries were hit.
In the West, adult men who have sex with underage girls are considered criminals. In Indonesia there is no such law. Even the laws that do exist are poorly implemented due to reported governmental collusion.
After the disaster hit, we heard reports of rampant child abductions for their use in the sex trade. Think about this—AFTER the disaster hit. I read a report about a young woman who survived the tsunami only to be raped in the swirling, muddy waters by a stranger who threatened to kill her if she spoke about it.
Can you imagine the depths of depravity of those who would suffer through a major tsunami, and instead of pausing to consider the reason behind it and to assist victims, would merely use the tragedy as a tool to further their sick deeds? It’s pure evil, and gives us a glimpse into the kind of wickedness at work there BEFORE the disaster hit.
Indonesia’s history built a foundation for its present. Concubinage was prevalent in Javanese (Indonesia’s main island) kingdoms and kings had sexual rights over low caste widows on the island of Bali. During the Dutch colonial period the sex industry expanded and became more organized. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Bali’s principal export was slaves. In Jakarta, on the northern tip of Java, Balinese slaves made up a large portion of the population.
The sex trade was long ago institutionalized in Indonesia. And today the government runs official brothel complexes throughout the country, managed by the local Social Affairs office. There also exists a rampant unofficial sex trade as well, and an industry of women who smoothly combine the professional skills of a secretary with sexual favors for business clients.
Responding to intense criticism, the government last year finally came up with a national plan to combat the trafficking of women and children. However, there is reportedly no budget to actually implement the plan, rendering it essentially toothless.
Beliefs in witchcraft and mysticism are also widespread in Indonesia, particularly on the island of Java. And homosexuality, though considered immoral, is widely practiced.
Indonesia has absorbed more of the tsunami’s deaths than any other country. Is this merely a coincidence, or is there a tie-in to its moral standards, and one other interesting fact—Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, and host to dozens of radical Islamic groups. It is easy to see the fertile ground that radical Islam has in Indonesia, to present itself as the country’s moral savior. The “rationale” behind the 2002 radical Muslim nightclub bombings in Bali begins to come into clearer focus.
Could the combination of wanton immorality, child exploitation, and the worst elements of the violently reactionary “religion of peace” have laid the groundwork for a loud divine statement to the world via the almost literally earth-shattering event?
Islamic influence on Sumatra has a long history. Arabs arrived on the island as early as the tenth century, and established the Sultanese of Achin (now the city of Banda Aceh, the country’s provincial capital at the northern tip of Sumatra). In the late 1990’s a radical Islamic group with reported ties to Al Qaida named Laskar Mujahidin was founded to attack Christian priests and churches in eastern Indonesia’s Malaku islands. Nine thousand people were killed in fighting between 1999 and 2001 as guerilla attacks increased.
In 2001, the Indonesian government caved, and wrote legislation that granted Banda Aceh limited local autonomy, including the right to implement Islamic law. In 2003, Muslims were a force behind writing the country’s stricter criminal code, one part of which would make sex before marriage illegal. The more sexually permissive criminal code in the country has not surprisingly been based largely on the laws of the former colonizing ruler, the Dutch.
Now Laskar Mujahidin has set up shop in Banda Aceh, supposedly helping the victims of the tsunami. American military and others in the area are, needless to say, on guard.
The lack of real spiritual grounding in Indonesia has led much of its citizenry into the realm of moral lawlessness. Their once-innocent children have been abused with impunity, and without apparent lament. Surrounding areas have been complicit. Morally bankrupt Westerners, much like many of the Dutch traders centuries before them—have come to Indonesia and sexually pillaged the landscape. And the false saving grace of radical Islam—instead of bringing real love, sanity, and much-needed reform—will only serve as a spiritual and physical butcher shop for the lost and any holdouts to their grand solution, a phenomenon not unlike the Nazi’s reaction to 1930’s permissive Weimar Republic-led Germany.
Since the disaster, political leaders have attempted to demonstrate their overflowing goodness, led by the Queen of Compassion, Bill Clinton. And President Bush commanded that our American flag be flown at half-staff to “honor the dead.” I hate to quibble with these words at the risk of sounding cold, but isn’t “honoring the dead” a phrase reserved for soldiers and other heroes who risk their lives for others?
If indeed the great tsunami of 2004 was God-directed, then this could be an example of a case where politicians are hell-bent on demonstrating how much they can out-love God. Their “compassion” is only one side to the love equation. But where is the correcting side of love? As an example, politicians always clamor for the people’s money to solve primarily behavior-induced tragedies such as AIDS. But I’ve very rarely heard a politician suggest behavior changes in order to avoid plagues such as these.
All loving parents know they must correct their children, but politicians know that if they correct their “children”, in other words, point out where they’ve gone wrong for their betterment, their children will rebel and throw them out of office.
One of the questions “experts” have thrown out since the tsunami is, “Could it happen here?” Good question actually, though I don’t believe the “experts” have any real clue as to what would actually cause IT to happen here. Could the cause be our failure to learn the moral lesson of Indonesia?
And could a precursor be the unprecedented, pounding, deadly storms we’ve seen raging across America? Could it be that God is talking to us right now, and getting louder? Perhaps because we have not yet reached the depths of depravity of Indonesia, we haven’t yet earned our right to a huge earthquake and tsunami. There are those who, I’m sure, think that this statement sounds cold, but is it not the height of compassion to prevent disaster? And is not this discussion of the great tsunami’s possible origin of potential enormous benefit to America and the world?
I understand there are those who will say that speaking or writing about the possibility of God as author of this disaster could potentially dampen help for the surviving victims of this disaster, and it is always possible that this could be the case among those who do not care for their fellow human beings. I’m not in that camp, and don’t subscribe to that way of thinking at all. And I believe far greater damage is done by suppressing questions of great potential benefit, than by asking them.
I believe that it is natural and right for all of us to do what we can to help alleviate the suffering of the survivors of the tsunami, no matter what we may consider to be its origin. And I also believe that God expects the same from us.
Consider the wild young man who foolishly brings on a situation that leads to his being shot. Would we say that the young man should be left to bleed to death, untreated? Or perhaps more appropriate to the tsunami situation, what about the drunk driver who totals his car and severely injures himself and his wife and children? Should he be left untreated? Should they? Of course not.
We can agree or disagree as to what caused the great tsunami of 2004. But one thing I know it will do is cause some soul searching among surviving victims, and among many of us, who are much further away, at least in miles. This disaster had worldwide impact, and its “aftershocks” will be far reaching.
I read about a man who survived the tsunami, and said he’d cut back the sh-- in his life. That man apparently received his personal wakeup call. So perhaps the most important question is not, “Did God do it?”, but, “Is there a message in it for us, and if so, will we heed it?”