Monday, September 05, 2005

When the levee breaks

I just dropped some mail off at the post office, and one of the guys there started talking about the hurricane. I heard the words "Amerika", "koca", etc etc, and he had a smilingly challenging look on his face, so I figure he was talking about how could such a big powerful country blah blah blah.

There's a lot of talk like this, around the world and in the US too. And maybe I'm misunderstanding what they're trying to say, but it sounds to me like people are missing the point.

Behind the human suffering, anger, frustration, etc, is what I think is a truly beautiful thing. This is simply another reminder that nature comes to reclaim itself, always, and without fail.

Nature has been coming to reclaim New Orleans for hundreds of years (at least), long before the US had even arrived in that area. Nature was probably coming to get New Orleans before it even belonged to the French. Nature was probably coming for New Orleans even before New Orleans was there.

You've asked me before if I believe in god, and the way I see it, this is god at work. But god doesn't have time for little things like superpowers, who is invading this country or that country, does doing so make them popular or unpopular, etc etc.

To god, we are all as small as ants. When you walk down the street, you don't worry about the ants scurrying around on the sidewalk. You just walk. And as you do so, you crush ants, you kill them. Their little ant friends are down there saying "oh my god, this is such an awful disaster, this is a tragedy, I can't believe Fred is dead, this is the worst thing that ever happened in my life, god must be coming to punish us", etc etc. But you don't see or hear any of this, and you don't care.

In my eyes, god is the same way. To god, we are all ants, whether we are George Bush, a starving kid in Africa, Murat Somebody-oglu walking down the street in Adana, or Alexander the Great. In gods eye's we are all ants.

When you see grass growing up from a crack in the sidewalk, that's nature coming to reclaim itself. When you see moss growing on a brick wall, that's nature coming to reclaim itself. And when a flood wipes out an entire city, that's just the same thing, nature coming to reclaim itself.

Anyway, I don't know what I'm trying to say. Basically, I guess it comes down to this: I have a hard time believing there's a humanized god out there, a god created in our own image, one who can talk to us in English, Arabic, or whatever language we speak, a god who told us not to smoke or screw our neighbor's wife. I think we made that up, and that's just fine with me, they're good rules, there's a good reason for that whole thing to exist.

The way I see it, god isn't human. God can't speak, and he's not a man or a woman. God isn't an intentional being, someone who says "should I send this hurricane to New Orleans or to Miami, or maybe I shouldn't do a hurricane at all, maybe today I feel like a big earthquake in Istanbul."

God doesn't notice us -- we are all ants in god's eyes. But sure enough, we have to play by god's rules, and one of those rules is that nature always comes to reclaim itself. For us as a species, one of the things that means is "don't build cities below sea level, especially if they are next to the sea". It also means that in the same way humans used to not exist, the day will come again when humans don't exist anymore, regardless of what we do or don't do in the meantime.

I think that is beautiful. It means the world/universe/everything is much bigger than we are. We are all ants. No one else sees the differences we humans think exist between us, so we might as well get over it, and treat each other well.