March 22, 2011

Reflections on Japan, Itamar, and some events closer to home

Filed under: Israel, Metaphysics, Newton — marcstober @ 5:27 pm

Two of the top news stories of the past few weeks have been about the earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident in Japan, and the murder of a family in Itamar, Israel. Both are a tragic human loss. I’m not sure which is more challenging to understand.

I can’t begin to comprehend having your home and family washed out to sea, to be left on the shore without food, medicine, or electricity. Or, to live with the danger of invisible radioactive fallout. But this doesn’t shatter my worldview. We live in a universe formed by supernovas and plate tectonics, awash with cosmic radiation, where the basic laws of physics mean that we need to use energy sources that can sometimes be deadly. To me, the miracle is not that the universe was created with Man at the center in Copernican style, but that we so improbably thrive when it wasn’t.

On the scale of universe, tragedy in a single household in Itamar shouldn’t seem like much, but I find it even harder to understand. Bad stuff happens, and people get angry, but ultimately, we find a way to share a small planet. Or so I like to think, which is why breaking into a house just to murder an unknown family with children is something I just can’t comprehend.

Then again, just this week, we heard helicopters and learned the State Police were searching for the perpetrator of shooting at a store here in Newton. No one was hurt, but it was bizarre that it wasn’t attempted armed robbery as much as pure intentional violence.

Yet we survive.