Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quick Thoughts About the Japanese Tragedy

Tragedy has struck Japan, and we mourn with our fellow human beings, and in an extra-special way with affected Japanese Christians. Having said that, I just want to raise a couple of questions that should help us consider this tragedy from several angles.

Theology: Did God cause the earthquake and tsunami?

Bible Christians recognize that God is responsible for everything that happens in the universe except sin. This includes natural disasters. We also believe that God is absolutely good and completely above reproach. This means that if I'm tempted to lash out at God for what happened in Japan, I still need to recognize my own moral depravity and humble myself before Him.

Media: Is the media being objective in its coverage of the events?

The media is never completely objective, for at least two reasons. They need news that sells, and reporters and editors have their own political, ideological, and other biases. I recently came across an enlightening book excerpt while reading Doug Nichol's blog, which reads,
We can also teach our sons and daughters that there is a world of suffering beyond our own neighborhood. Unfortunately, our kids won’t get a reliable perspective of this plight through the media. In 1988, for example, the press sent an army of reporters to cover the story of three trapped whales in Alaska. Several governments cooperated to rescue these animals, and the media heralded this account to inquiring minds around the world. Sadly, the same year, more than a quarter of a million people died of starvation in the Sudan. Their terrible tragedy never made the front page.

In fact, more children die in the Third World every two days than all the American servicemen killed in the Vietnam War. In some countries like Tanzania, one of five children will die before the age of five from diseases such as measles, malnourishment, diarrhea, and malaria. This is the stark reality of life and death in the Southern Hemisphere.
Train Up A Child by Rolf Zettersten (pages 29-30)
The lesson for me is this: Have alternative sources of information about what's going on in the world. Popular media focuses on "news" and "events," but leaves out so much more. We shouldn't take orders from the media (and people who take orders from the media) about how we should respond to any given situation.

Politics: How will Japanese officials use this situation to push their own agendas in foreign relations?

Many Filipinos (sentimental as we are) may be tempted to think kawawa naman ang mga Hapones and let our guard down in Philippine-Japan relations. That would be a big mistake. Should we donate to our money to relief? I don't believe so. Tayong third-world country ay magbibigay ng donasyon sa pangatlong pinakamalaking ekonomiya sa mundo? Maybe we can just send teams of aid workers instead of donations.

Meanwhile, should we take the nuclear crisis there as a sign that we should do away with nuclear energy here in the Philippines?

Migration: Will this tragedy make Japan more open or closed to Filipino migrants?

Japan already has a population problem because its young work force is too small (low fertility rates). Now they have suffered considerable loss of human life and are in need of major reconstruction in the northern coast. Will they turn to Filipinos and other foreigners to help them rebuild their country in the coming years?

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