by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
Blame the victim. We see it time and time again. Just yesterday, Pat Robertson blamed the Haitians for the recent earthquake that has killed nearly 100,000 people.
According to Robertson, Haiti made a “deal with the devil” in order to gain independence from France. That’s why the island nation is repeatedly slammed with natural disasters and enveloped in overwhelming poverty according to Robertson. That’s right. It’s their fault. God got them. Good for God.
Sounds like Robertson’s God is a downright vengeful dirt bag who is utterly lacking in compassion.
Comments like Robertson’s during times of tragedy always leave me with my jaw hanging open.
During times of tragedy, times of pain, times of deep personal grief, usually hearing, “It’s God’s will” or one of the zillions of variations of this statement is not a comfort. As a matter of fact, statements like that to a grieving person are downright insensitive. Whether it is hearing, “God killed your puppy,” “God made your team lose,” or “God just opened a can of whoop ass on your nation,” surely those statements can’t be helpful or comforting in moments of pain. Can they????
Even if there is a greater purpose and plan in everything that happens, certainly in the moments of deepest pain those who are grieving will receive little comfort from having God’s plan shoved down their throats. They may (or they may not) arrive at the belief that it was part of a greater plan on their own. But in the midst of their grief I do not believe it is anyone’s place to point that out.
When I was 16, one of my best friends was mowed down by a drunk driver on the first night of spring break. He was on the side of the road changing a tire. As a group of his friends, we were raw and we were grieving. Thank goodness we had Marti.
“God wanted Dan,” she told us with a perky (and some might say smugly superior) smile on her face. “He just became a Christian, so God took him.”
That statement felt like a gut punch, pure and simple. Well – and an untruth. I knew Dan pretty well, and he grew up Catholic. There was no “just became a Christian.” Whatever faith he had was private. There was no way that twit, Marti, would know.
What it felt like to us – his friends – was that Marti grabbed Dan’s death (a deeply personal tragedy to us) and tried to use it to support her own personal Christian agenda. This was when I first turned away from the church, which I felt had no answers. Notice I said I turned away from the church. Not God. At times in my life I have been a believer, and at other times an agnostic. Now my faith doesn’t quite fit in with any organized religion out there. But this isn’t about my faith – or lack thereof. This is about how faith is sometimes used.
In a very short period of time following Dan’s death, there were two other deaths of kids our age. It was like repeated gut blows. And each time, Marti and friends would come forward with some stunning statement similar to the one they’d made about Dan.
Does God really wield an axe that He uses at His will whenever He feels like it – smiting nations that have made fictional “deals with the devil”, punishing those who love differently with horrifying and incurable epidemics or sending martyrs to fly planes into buildings?
I don’t know. I’d like to think not. I have no idea if God has a will at all, and I can’t even prove that there is a God to have a will. And if I don’t know, how can Pat Robertson know? How can Marti know?
Here’s what I do know. In times of tragedy, if people are comforted by turning to God, then by all means, they should do so. If, on the other hand, they need to process their grief and pain in other ways, who are we to step in and shove God down their throats?
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You are standing there – raw and in pain – in the smoldering ashes of all that you knew and all that you loved. It’s gone, and it hurts. Which would you rather hear?
“Well it was God’s will, you know. Good luck with that.”
“I’m here for you. I love you. How can I help?”
I know which one I would rather hear. For that matter, I know which one I would rather say to someone in pain. Surely even God can allow for such compassion.
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