Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Natural disasters are not that natural

Toll and damage from natural disasters are up and we need to blame Chance, Nature or G^d, depending on our worldview, no? Well, not so quickly.

Even in Noach’s time, the rabbis teach us, the Flood was caused by humans ruining life on earth. But, in any case, nowadays, that connection is as easy as it gets – on three levels.

1. Climate-Related Disasters

Almost all of the scientific world blames climate change on human waste. So does collective cow fluctuation heat up the planet dangerously because we consume insane amounts of beef.

More than ever, we suffer from floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and so do the plant and animal world (which also harms us) because of climate change. The malaria mosquito enters areas where there never was malaria, like Northern Europe or Northern America.

However, don’t forget disasters to plants and animals directly by humans, like bees almost poisoned to extinction and chopping up the rainforest for more grassland for even more cows.

2. Geophysical Disasters

But, earthquakes and follow-up tsunamis really seem an act of G^d, no? Well, their deadliness is hardly so.

Most people die from these because of shoddy home and school constructions, lack of potent early warning systems and an increase in living closer to the sea. Nowadays, none of these can be blamed on the natural or supernatural.

3. Sickness, Aging and Death

Last but not least, there are natural and unnatural causes of death.

We’re on our way to conquer all illnesses. Even uproot them. Meanwhile, the lives of many people around the globe are not deemed important enough to be saved from disease, invalidity or death. That attitude makes these disasters largely man-made.

To stop and reverse aging will take some more time. Yet, what’s the use or value of reaching physical healthy immortality if we continually daily slaughter each other in angry or jealous outbursts, wars and robberies?


Maimonides wrote already 800 years ago that most people’s suffering is self-inflicted. He doesn’t mean their “deserved” retribution. Rather, he means more something like banging one’s head against the wall repeatedly and then complaining to G^d that one’s head hurts.

I’m not writing all this to let G^d off the hook. We could still ask for more heavenly mercy and time to mend our ways. But most of what I want to say is, let us stop ruining the planet, nature and each other’s lives, including our own. We’d all profit.

A golden motto to cut down on all evil could be from not just going for what a. feels good b. for me  c. right now but to consider what a. would be best b. for everyone  c. in the long run. Going by that, life for I, me and myself has still enough good to live for; and leaves space for others.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Holocaust survivors in The Netherlands, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Dutch Holocaust survivors. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. How ironic that he who had three times 90 for Dutch at his finals is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew. G-d definitely has a sense of humor. His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and LBCHLCH, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. His fields of attention are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine, Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (of young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQI, foreigners, and anyone else who's dehumanized and exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation) and Veganism. Many of his posts will relate to current affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or to new insights that suddenly befell him. He always tries to bring a fresh perspective and to avoid boring you or wasting your time with the obvious, though original minds by necessity will be attacked by their contemporaries. In case you wonder - yes he's a bit dyslectic. To send a personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click on Contact Me.
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