Because life is not a spectator sport

News out of Pakistan continues to be grim. From Pakistan’s Dawn, we get this current, clinical sounding assessment of aid being delivered to areas stricken by the recent earthquake centered in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, even as it acknowledges that there are areas too remote to have received any help yet.
It’s interesting: a huge part of the problem in getting relief up there is that, aside from the remoteness of the area (in a branch of the same mountain group that includes the world’s tallest peaks) is the general lack of infrastructure up there, a factor contributed to, in part, by the ongoing “dispute” over control over the province between India and Pakistan.
Having just completed Judaism’s Day of Atonement (for 5766), a holiday which features a food/caffeine deprivation headache from a full-day’s absolute food/water fast along with the collective prostration to the Almighty marking an actually quite beautiful and reverent holiday, I am immediately struck by one of the themes of Yom Kippur, which is, ostensibly, an attempt at sorrow for things that have caused estrangements between people (or peoples, I suppose), and a wish to do better in the coming year (God willing, as always). In other words, a quarrel of any nature requires at least two combatants; as time goes on, fault allocations become less important at some point than the energy spent on the quarrel. At least, so goes the theory… Anyway, cutting to the chase, this being a common inter-human fault, that of inter-personal estrangement for no seeming reason, as one of the “sins” warranting repentance, and reflection (on an empty stomach).
Fast forward to 2005, and let’s look at what’s happening… The year began, of course, with an ongoing American incursion in Iraq, which, say what you will about it, was undergoing before the year began. But what else happened? Its fascinating, really. If one were to name the three most troubling areas of separatist violence over disputed territory in the world, leaving out Israel/Palestine, one might well have chosen over these three: (1) Aceh province in Indonesia, where a separatist dispute between the locals and the Indonesia central government has been raging for years, (2) Sri Lanka, under decades of violence between Tamil separatists and the Sinhaliese majority, and (3) Kashmir province, disputed between India and Pakistan since the 1940’s, and the subject of three major wars between the two. And what happened? January’s tsunami killed hundreds of thousands in (1), and thousands upon thousands in (2), and October’s earthquake killed at least tens of thousands in (3). Oh, btw, the universe unleased Hurricanes Katrina and Rita upon the nation responsible for the Iraq invasion.
Is the universe trying to tell us all something? And I don’t mean in the Falwell/Robertson/Dobson, etc. sense of God showing us that he will smite us for our cultural laxness and sexual freedom… I mean that divisiveness is ultimately futile against a moving universe… not even the ground under your feet is something you can rely on… so why in God’s name is it worth having decades long wars about? Can’t we just figure out a way to share what we have? In some sense, the year isn’t a total write-off: we’ve seen Israel hand back Gaza to the Palestinians, no strings attached– something once perceived to be an impossibility (though the West Bank and Jerusalem remain problematic). We’ve seen the settlement of a humongous conflict in Southern Sudan (though Darfur is not resolved).
I don’t know. Maybe there is hope for this world if we realize that its reality is that it is not static, the air, water and earth are in constant flux, and just maybe, we are all ultimately in a never-ending struggle with the universe, which only gets worse when we throw in a struggle with each other… Or maybe this is just my brain duly idled after a day of fasting… don’t know… but maybe the universe is trying to tell us something…