Tsunamis raise questions about why, why not

What others say

Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2005

The deepest ethical, philosophical and theological questions are raised by the tsunami disaster in south Asia and the wonderful outpouring of global solidarity in response to it. How, ask many Christian and other religious believers and those who are skeptical of such faith, can a good and omniscient God have allowed it to happen?

Can the question of God's existence be resolved simply by this assumed responsibility for natural or human events? Does humanity's freedom of will to respond compassionately and with love to such disasters not provide the real test of this question? How does the flow of material aid and human empathy to the Indian Ocean countries and peoples affected measure up to that demanding task?

Rarely have questions like these been posed in as direct and challenging a way as over the weeks since the tsunami struck. It is one way of gauging how deeply people have been affected in a much more interdependent global setting. In Ireland and throughout the Christian world, the fact that the disaster coincided with the Christmas holiday greatly amplified the religious response and questioning to which it has given rise, as well as the human solidarity shown.

— The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland

Jan. 12

Nothing will ever be the same again: a sentence not often pronounced returns to our lips, three years after the attack on the Twin Towers. Where one disaster divides us, another unites us; one man-made, another provoked by nature. Each requires a political solution.

The world is no longer Europe, but Earth. Humans are free and more powerful than ever but, above all, they form part of the same family.

The U.N. is the international community's political instrument through which to tackle the problems of the planet: security, the preservation of lives, solidarity, legality. The inadequacies of the U.N. are dramatic. The political teaching of the tsunami is that large steps must be taken to reinforce and improve global public institutions. Europe is absent, America indifferent, the rest of the world impotent: an instant media compassion does not lead to the reinforcement of the U.N.

Nothing impedes man, in this secular modern age, from learning from what happens and from those that suffer. Disaster unites, so why then is the U.N. not united?

— Corriere della Sera, Milan, Italy

Jan. 11

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