Japan Quake: Resist the rush to judgment

As I’ve made my rounds, following the news in Japan, checking out photos and video footage of the devastation via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, I’ve noticed that quite a few people have made comments that could be paraphrased and summarized something like this:

This is what happens when Mother Nature is pissed.

And, I’ll be honest, when I watched the video below, six or so minutes that capture the awesome and terrible power of the tsunami, as I saw the water sweeping away all those material things that we covet or cling to so firmly, like cars and all manner of manmade metal and plastic objects, I admit that thoughts like that flashed momentarily through my mind, that nature anthropomorphized was taking revenge upon us for our wasteful and destructive habits.

And then I saw the houses moving, the homes of flesh and blood people like me, and I even had a horrible thought, wondering if I’d glimpse any bodies in the rushing torrent, and suddenly I felt ashamed for having had such heartless thoughts.

It’s a bit of a spiritual conundrum for a semi-Buddhist like myself. A Buddhist might argue that the principles of impermanence and karma, could very well be in play here. And yet, compassion is also a Buddhist principle, so how compassionate is it to think that we somehow deserve this?