Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm not on the throne

From time to time, something crashes into our world, shattering our illusion of control.

Today, it was a massive earthquake and tsunami, devastating Japan and reaching all the way across the Pacific Ocean to steal a life in California.

Most of the time, I wander through my days, planning my future, and living as if I control my own fate and destiny. But when I watch a wall of water pulverize a town, when I see skyscrapers swaying like toys and witness vehicles thrown about like Matchbox Cars in a child's playroom, I simply can't cling to that illusion.

In fact, I let go of the idea that I control the world several years ago, in large part because of my faith in God. It's a lot easier to accept life as it comes when you step down off the throne. And for those that refuse, God has a way of barging in to remind them.

Not that I'm suggesting God causes earthquakes to happen. As a friend of mine wisely said, this is not an act of God. The redemption of a heart and the transformation of a soul is an act of God. A disaster is simply a disaster.

But tragedies do serve as reminders. We aren't the kings and queens of the universe. We don't rule the galaxy. And ultimately, we are at the mercy of things we simply don't fathom.

"No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover it's meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it." - Ecclesiastes 8:17

Yet many cling tenaciously to the illusion.

Within hours of the quake and tsunami, I saw an article blaming the tragedy on global climate change.

Did you catch it?

Hidden within the enviro-political rhetoric lies the ultimate illusion - that somehow humankind can even control a cataclysmic event like an earthquake.

If we just pass the right law, implement the right policy, force people to adhere to a given standard, THEN we can avoid tragedy and calamity. We can erase heartache from the world. We can all live safe and serene lives in our man-made paradise.

We see it every time something bad happens. A congresswoman gets shot and we rush to pass a gun law. A kid falls off a bike and cracks his head open, and we scramble to require helmets. An earthquake devastates a nation, and we use it as a forum to advocate for massive changes in economic and energy policy.

We pass law after law and force edict after edict upon the people of the world, and yet tragedies continue to parade through our lives, unabated.

Each moment we become less and less free, yet not an iota safer.

The last time I felt like this was after Hurricane Katrina. All of the finger pointing. All of the blame-game. All of the political posturing. All brought about by a massive wind that no person could have ever predicted, and no law or agency on earth could have stopped.

I wrote a poem a few days after that storm. It seems like a good time to bring it back out.

Sometimes the wind is fierce
And the rain can fall so hard
And when it's on the line
We draw the losing card
Sometimes in the dead of night
We're left out in the cold
And with each passing hour
New things become old

So we finger point
And spread the blame
But that won't change things
They're still the same
Some things break
Can't make them whole
There are just some things beyond our control
Yes there are just some things beyond our control

Sometimes I yell and scream
That it is just not fair
Does anybody hear me?
Does anybody care?
I'm tripping over unanswered prayers
Away they drift into thin air

So I finger point
And spread the blame
But that won't change things
They're still the same
Some things break
Can't make them whole
There are just some things beyond my control
Yes there are just some things beyond my control

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