Saturday, January 15, 2005

Don't Look for Meaning


Rodger Kamenetz wrote a wonderful essay recently about the tsunami catastrophe. He said that many people try to find a divine reason or explanation for tragic suffering and death. Some attribute it to God's wrath or justice. Others say it's karma. But Kamenetz says that there is often no explanation for people's pain, suffering, and death and that the misguided effort to explain it away merely diminishes our empathy and compassion for other people's misfortune. What we often need to do is accept the meaninglessness of individual or collective tragedy and simply open our hearts to those afflicted by it and do what we can to help them through the worst of it. As he says of the tsunami tragedy:

It is not for the good, it is not for the bad. It just is.

It is not a blessing, it is not a curse, it just is.

A tectonic plate shifted, and a vast wave spread across the ocean, and took with it many lives.

And now another wave is spreading, and it is also vast, and it spreads through the hearts of those who let themselves feel it.

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