Saturday, May 17, 2008

People in the Earthquake

This is a photo of an area somewhere in northeastern Sichuan that I took in April, enroute from Hong Kong to Xian. This may not be the exact area most heavily hit by the earthquake, and it was taken before the earthquake. But take a look at the large scale landslides, particularly to the left of the photo. This is part of the reason the Huanghe and many other similar rivers are so yellow. Because the mud keeps sliding down the mountains, eventually ending up in the rivers below. We can imagine the effect of a strong earthquake in such unstable terrain.

It is impossible not to feel for the people who died and otherwise suffered in the earthquake, and their family and friends. It seems the world is extremely arbitrary, unfair, and even capricious. Why should so many who are so young, die or suffer through no fault of theirs? It just does not make sense. We human beings find it hard to understand and accept.

On the other hand, so many people have behaved admirably, even heroically. The teachers who died protecting the students, the rescuers using bare hands to dig out survivors, rescuers dying to save the others, ordinary people walking to the disaster areas to hand out food, taxi drivers volunteering to transport the wounded, people donating blood, donating money, ...

Why do people behave unselfishly? Why do people literally give up their lives for others, just like Jesus did? If this physical world is all there is to it, this is foolishness. The fact that we consider such acts admirable, even heroic implies ultimately we believe in the existence of another world, the spiritual world of God. Death is not the end of the story of our lives. In sacrificing ourselves for others and for God, we end up gaining an eternal life. it may sound like a cliche, but it is true.

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