« Traces of the Vikings | Main | Intelligent design? »

January 04, 2006

A bad start?

Looking back to this time last year, the world was still reeling from the shock and horror of the tsunami in South East Asia. We didn't know then, and we probably still don't know, the full scale of the death toll, or what it's long term impact will be. This year it seems to be someone elses turn to suffer the disasters.

South Eastern Australia has been in the grip of a severe drought for several years, and now is ablaze with bush fires sweeping through NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Homes are being destroyed, towns threatened and there seems little chance of a respite, until there is some really decent rain across the entire region - something it seems, that remains a remote hope! In the last few days there has also been the news from Germany, first of an avalanche that has killed two, possibly three, members of a party of skiers near the Austrian border, and, near Munich, the snow laden roof of an ice skating rink collapsed and has killed at least eleven and maybe more, with many more injured.

Add to that, the Russian Federation's little dispute over gas supplies to the Ukraine - which impacts on the EU members who buy their gas from Russia - and there is a strong possibility that 2006 will see some serious life loss in the Ukraine due to lack of heating fuel for thousands of Ukrainians.

Not really an auspicious start to the year!

The optimistic way of looking at it though, would be to look at all the good things that have happened as well. Certainly the tsunami evoked a relief effort and an outpouring of aid from the developed world that is surely unparalleled. The Hurricanes in the Southern US also saw a huge relief effort and again a rush to send aid and to make donations to aid agencies which must surely be unequalled. Help has been given too, to many other nations, Niger, Sierra Leone and many others have received help when they needed it, and will continue to receive help until they sort out their problems.

Others would also say that the elections in Iraq, the news that Western troops will soon begin withdrawing and the release of the hostages taken in Gaza were all good news events as well. And, yes, they certainly are. So, perhaps we should take a different view.

Perhaps we should look at the disasters and admit to ourselves that the world is a dangerous place, one in which life exists in a pecarious balance which is easily upset. One stone or one snowball do not make an avalanche, but may well be the trigger for one. And just as easily not. We do have a tendency to see only the disasters and to overlook the things that don't go wrong on a daily basis. Perhaps that is because "good news" is "no news" as far as the media are concerned. Good news never sells a newspaper.

Well, we can wallow in the bad news, or we can look back at these events and tell ourselves that we can learn from them and move on to try and avoid that mistake a second time. Alternatively we can say to ourselves, "well, it's not a good start, but it isn't as bad as 2005 and it can only get better!" Neither extreme is a good position, as such an attitude will evoke either an over-reaction or no reaction at all. Surely we should be looking at these events, learning the lessons and then moving forward in hope and in the knowledge that we have done what we can to mitigate the effects of such disasters, while at the same time recognising that we can never completely eliminate the risks that go alongside daily living.

So, I look forward to this year in hope that we will be able to steer a path through the year which will allow us to reach the next one older, wiser, perhaps a little more dented than we are now, but still intact and enjoying the journey. That is the key. That and to look to see what God intends us to learn from all of this, for He is there, in the midst of our tragedy, weeping with us, and there in the midst of our joy, when we don't look for Him as we forget that He is part of both joy and sorrow to us.

With apologies to a brother in law who sent me this some years ago, here is my philosphy for the years ahead ....

"Life is not a journey to the grave to be undertaken with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the finish line broadside on, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil and shouting GERONIMO!"

I salute all those of my friends who did just that in the year past, and all those who, like me, continue the race to the finish in the year ahead! I'll see you through the year - or through a window somewhere! Have fun and enjoy the ride - and above all, remember that God is taking the journey with you.

Posted by The Gray Monk at January 4, 2006 01:11 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: