The Watercooler Revisited

January 18, 2005

A few weeks ago, we noted that there would be much discussion at the “water cooler” about America’s apparent stinginess at giving to the Tsunami relief funds. But, it seems now a different discussion is circling the klatches, one that is much more meaningful and has a better history.

What caused the Tsunami? Enlightenment, science-oriented people say “a subduction of this planet’s plates”. That’s not what people are asking. Disasters of this magnitude cause people to seek deeper meanings. And not everyone is as intuitive as you might think. We want answers in cataclysm, and we want to make some sense of this world. Maybe even we want someone to blame.

This article in the NY Times addresses why this is happening. Note that the author does not lean kindly in a Christian direction (calling us “those who see the Apocalypse in every disaster). But he does have the situation rightly analyzed, so you may want to read it. (Also, be aware that you must sign up for the NYTimes online in order to read this article. But, for now, signup is free).

The upshot of it all is this: People want moral absolutes and moral cause and effect, and if there isn’t any obvious connections to moral meanings, we will search until we find one.


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