Like many, my heart goes out to those in Turkey and Syria suffering through the destruction and aftermath of a major earthquake. Such natural disasters often bring out the best in people—empathy, love, and offers of support. They lead to both tragedy and human warmth. They also give us pause to reflect, if we will, on our worst behaviors. Rescue efforts have been hampered, in Syria especially, by a weakened infrastructure, caused, at least in part, by foreign bombing. And yes, the United States was part of that. People who now feel our sympathy only months before faced death from us. What is it about our species that makes us want to destroy one another through our own technology but then turns and wants to help when a “random” act of nature occurs? We must prefer death on our own terms.
For me, part of this is reflected in how the so-called “culture of life” treats liberal social causes as the “culture of death.” Those groups that support “the culture of life” are against abortion but desire no controls on gun ownership. This is the same basic principle—we want to cause death on our own terms. We want to play God and decide who is worth saving and who should be destroyed. I have no doubt that if, say, a tornado destroyed an entire city block outside a convention center where the NRA was meeting that those at the conference would rush out to try to help find survivors. When they reconvened, they would try to figure out how to protect their “right” to own and collect assault rifles. Is this “culture of life” really worth preserving?
Meanwhile the people of Syria and Turkey are suffering. Thousands are dead, winter is setting in, and Covid is still out there. They need our help. The amount we spend on aid will, however, pale next to the amount we spend on bombs, drones, and missiles. I have to wonder if we never really stop to think about what we’re doing when we engage in behaviors that destroy others. That weeping mother outside an earthquake-collapsed building could be the same mother outside a missile-collapsed structure. With natural disasters we know that we all stand a chance of being victims. We feel for those caught in the way. Once politics enters the picture, however, and we have the ability to control who lives or dies, everything changes.