Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beyond Belief

The power of the earth was shown again in yesterday's earthquake/tsunami in Japan. I watched the videos with a sense of incredible disbelief. How quickly life changes in times like that.

I know none of this is a surprise or particularly profound. But I was struck by one of the headline questions on an article:

Could the Quake Have Been Predicted?
We humans naturally hate unpredictability. If we can only dig deep enough, think the right way, find enough information, nothing should be beyond our ability to predict. There must have been, we believe, enough warning signs that this was going to happen that we could have predicted it if we had enough information and knew where to look.

Oh, if that were only true. When in reality it is far more chaotic and uncertain than that. It is far beyond our puny human ability to understand all the many forces at work that may have started miles away from the Japanese coast. Like the proverbial butterfly wing flapping in China causing a tornado in Minnesota, these forces of nature are so enormous and so fragile in their own geologic way, we will be lucky if we ever get good enough to predict an earthquake before it slides.

Sure, I know that I could be wrong. People have made statements like that about many things and been shown to be in error within days or years. But there is so much we don't understand; so much that is far beyond the vision that we have. We may get closer, but the BIG ONES will always elude us.

That is the price we pay for being human. We are powerless and in the end much of our lives are unmanageable. When we come to accept that, we have begun to find the source of serenity and grace.

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