If you think there's an indulgent, powder-puff delicacy spared for the horrors of devastation, you may very well have tied your brain to the wrong freemason post. I'll shoot straight as a drunken cupid—you're wrong. The universe sends no sympathy, no pulse of compassion for lives snuffed out by disaster. I can't cook it any sweeter.
Nepal has been a victim of Nature's wracking star-show, her seismic stomp that left more than 128 people grappling with the mercy of mortality. The death toll, as it stands, paints a grim mural of flesh and fear, but officials warn it may yet steepen like one of those insurmountable Everest slopes. But is there a silver lining or rather, are we absent-mindedly gazing at all the wrong clouds?
Under the gossamer sun, hearts bleed raw empathy for the victims of the devastating earthquake. As should they—life is the most valuable commodity we've got. It is irreplaceable, untradeable, unsalvageably gone once it's taken. Solidarity in face of catastrophe is a trait that bloomed from the days of hunting with sharp sticks until now; because acknowledgment of death stirs that disconcerting battle cry of survival raging in each of our chests. Yet, disaster is not a discriminate bastard. It does not care if a country ranges from an economic powerhouse or a destitute wasteland. It strikes with a cruel indifference that leaves chaff and ruin in its victorious wake.
So, where is the barbed hook in all this, what knots my guts into frustrated tangle? It's the way our world handles disaster, damned it all. We decry catastrophes like this, and for what? To wrangle sympathy, to squeeze the tears out of concrete-hearted misers? With our hands crossed over our hearts, we spit prayers into the wind, let the soothing idea of 'doing something' cushion our conscience. But it is ineffectual, like paper boats contesting the tide.
On a humanitarian level, our support for Nepal is unequivocal. Aid is vital; physical, economic, and spiritual balm to salve the gaping wounds struck in the bedrock of a community. But oftentimes, the monster in the room, the elephant pounding at the keyboards of our minds is the blistering inference that we're bit players in the cosmic rig. Instead of contending with the unsaturated fear of life's transient vulnerability, we've swaddled ourselves in the false security of empathy. The bitter pill is admitting to ourselves that no amount of prayers or hopeful condolences will prevent the universe, in its calamitous indifference, from knocking another domino off its path.
The politics of disaster provide no comfort, no balm against the cutthroat reality of landmasses shifting beneath innocents. Quite frankly, neither does religion nor the cold machinations of science. Life is an unpredictable, fickle mistress, thrashing in a perilously balanced universe. Let that sink, and let it sink deep.
Nepal has been dealt a grievous hand by nature, its fate fluttered onto a path of mourning and recovery. The conservative in me clears the throat of pretense- my condolences run deep, without specks of insincerity. Yet I firmly believe that instead of just crying to the stars, we should strive to understand, equip, and prepare for these unpredictable, destructive seizures of mother nature.
Because life isn't about trying to iron the wrinkles out of the universe's design- it's about learning how to wear them with the dignity and strength of a survivor.