Naftali Rothenberg
Naftali Rothenberg

Nature is not ‘trying’ to say anything. Neither is God

World Plague. Humans are sick and some are dead. The human routine was canceled. Staying home. The economy is in deep crisis. Most public and private sector decision makers lack prior knowledge, are limited in predicting developments, and operate from assessments, experimentation and wonder. Mistake. Fixed or not. And make mistakes again.

The state of uncertainty is the big time for those who always know for sure: Every day in recent months, global public discourse has been flooded with “explanations” by environmentalists, theologians, numerologists, psychics and readers in coffee and cards “why it happened to us” and what nature or God is “trying to tell us.” They tell us that after the corona, our attitude towards the environment or religion or both will change, we will be less materialistic, more “spiritual” moral and better humans.

This phenomenon is understandable and claims should not be made to the people who always know for sure and rather demand that they give up a global marketing opportunity of one hundred years. Almost like masks and alcohol-gel, this commodity has a public demand. This must be respected. However, it is always appropriate to allow those who wish to examine things from a different perspective to hear less popular ideas.

Nature does not “try” to tell us anything. Human-environmental relations were complex thousands of years before the Corona and will continue to be subject to the struggle between immediate interests and long-term results. Human activities have brought about a far-reaching change in the natural environment on continents and oceans and nature never returns “to itself.” In other cases, human initiatives have emerged as serious failures that have also failed due to insufficient knowledge of natural processes such as air and water flow, erosion and various ecological balances.

Humans was already the victim of a violation of such balances that caused the transfer of epidemics from continent to continent and the death of millions. Humanity’s response was not an attempt to understand what nature “tries” to say to it. Global processes have continued and intensified and the effort has focused on providing solutions to the direct causes of the disease through vaccines and drugs. The fight for the continued existence of open spaces, prevention of water and air pollution and maintaining ecological balance will continue as before. Entrepreneurs’ efforts to develop high-end projects at the expense of open spaces in violation of the ecological balance and the enormous efforts of the world’s job-demanding populations will also continue, even more so, due to the economic crisis. This collision is here to stay.

God is not “trying” to tell us anything. For believers in the different religions, He has already spoken His words in his written revelation in the Holy books. Are global disasters a kind of repeated divine revelation? Humans have always responded to catastrophes in abyss of human evil or supreme heroism of human good. Believers have been strengthened by hard trials and others have lost their faith in the severe suffering they have undergone. The question, then, is not what God is “trying” to tell us through a specific situation but how we, human beings, treat and respond to the reality and the assessments it invites us to. And maybe God is really telling us something? Always. Even now in the Corona state that makes it difficult for so many people, but also in the routine that goes on before it? Even when we were in a very difficult economic crisis, but not least when we were successful in business and living the “good life”?

The pretense of explaining what God is “trying” to tell us through the Corona is primarily related to the radical change in the global routine. It is a pretense that distorts the foundations of morality that we deserve a divine message only in the context of great damage to the global economy. Wars that cause millions of victims and refugees, millions of Africans who die from AIDS and other diseases, and many other disasters that do not hinder progress in the global way, do not entitle humanity to divine messages as long as they do not violate routine.

On second thought, saying what God is trying to tell us may be appropriate in the context of disasters that occur frequently among us: victims of road accidents; Accidents at construction and industrial sites; Domestic violence. The question of the status of disadvantaged populations should be broadened; The place of the exceptionally and mentally challenged in society and more. As we all know, about all these and much more God tells us a clear statement. Our answer in the Corona time should be: We take responsibility for preventing the disasters and correcting the social distortions that we “get used” to living with during our days of routine.

The believers does not need it to reveal to themselves what God is “trying” to say in a difficult and challenging reality. It is clear to them that it is their duty to maintain their humanity. Keep dignity and respect for others and not let those around fall. They do not build on the change of reality but deal with it.

About the Author
Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg is the rabbi of Har Adar township, Israel, and a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
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