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Sukhmandir Khalsa

Disasters Act Of God Or Human Factor?

By March 2, 2012

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Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fires all seem to be happening with increasing frequency. In recent years, major earthquakes flattened cities around the world, tsunamis swept over Japan and Pacific coastlines, cyclones battered Pacific islands, tornadoes tore through and storms caused significant flooding in regions of the Eastern United States, fires torched the Western United States, unprecedented amounts of snow fell in Europe, and famine from drought devastated vast areas of Africa.

International disaster relief agencies like United Sikhs and Khalsa Aid rallied heroically in response to the Haiti disaster and African famine providing langar and basic necessities. But so much has happened in such a short time that I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the immensity. I find myself wondering why disasters are occurring with such frequency, are they a cycle of nature, and thus an act of God, or is there a human factor? How can emotional response be kept in check so that it serves rather than enslaves, enabling purpose rather than panic?

I turned to Gurbani for guidance.

Guru Amar Daas wrote:

"Har aapae srisatt savaar sir dhandhai laaidaa ||
The Lord Himself created creation and commits all to their tasks." SGGS ||644

Guru Arjan Dev wrote:

"Sog rog bipat at bhaaree ||
Sorrow, disease and the most terrible calamities,

Door bhee jap naam muraaree ||3||
Are removed by meditating on the Name of the Lord. ||3|| SGGS ||742

I'm interested in your thoughts about why disasters are occurring with such frequency.

Do you feel that activities of the human race are a factor in climate change?
Do we the people of the planet have responsibility to our future generations?
Are you willing to share responsibility for a clean environment?

March 14 , 2012, the Sikhism Nanakshahi New Year and commemoration of the 1644 A.D. inauguration of Seventh Guru Har Rai known for his compassionate nature, is also the second annual global Sikh Vatavaran Diwas or Sikh Environmental Day. Sikhs around the world are requested to get involved and take in a week long online seminar and ongoing effort to focus on the environment and register with Eco Sikh.

March 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(1) Peaceful Warrior says:

It is the nature of a spiritual being to help and serve all. Keeping this in mind, the Disasters would seem to be a windfall for the seva minded. Helping those who are needy in the material world is somewhat straight-forward. Helping those who are not physically in dire straights and more to the point those who do not even feel they need anything requires a more conscious and subtle approach.

March 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm
(2) Susan says:

I voted all of the above, but I am sure that some factors are more influential than others. The area where I live has recently survived two devastating hurricanes. The loss of lives and property was sad, but we did learn a lot about valuing our neighbors, working together and re-assessing our priorities.

March 19, 2010 at 8:58 am
(3) Potter Beth says:

Good insight, Peaceful Warrior. I’ll just add, sometimes the best help is the help that isn’t recognized as such…the subtle impacts we have on others.

March 2, 2012 at 10:37 am
(4) Trudy says:

This (sort of) reminds me of what Yogananda said in response to a criticism of Yogis not being out in the world being do-gooders, instead meditating in caves. He said (paraphrasing) “You have no idea how many disasters are averted for mankind, how much WORSE things could actually be, were it not for Yogis meditating, their minds fixed on God in some cave.”

March 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm
(5) Jasleen Kaur says:

i don’t think natural disasters are terribly more common now than before… it’s just with the internet, we know about every little detail of each one.

some human activity, such a fracking (causing increase in earthquake activity) and greenhouse gas emissions (causing changes in climate and water levels) are indeed man made. but at the same time, man does nothing without waheguru, so i suppose it’s appropriate to say EVERYTHING is an act of god.

but really, the 24 hour news cycle does just blow everything out of proportion.

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