Monday, November 08, 2010

Indonesian Minister: Tsunami Eruption Act of God

This is a 2010 comment from the Indonesian Jakarta Post correcting the inhuman statement/claims of the Indonesian Government's "Technology Minister", Tifatul Sembiring who claims that MORAL DEPRAVITY caused the Mentawai tsunami and the Mount Merapi eruptions .. and this retarded guy is the so-called Technology Minister .. unbelievable ..'.)

Mythical perceptions of nature and survival
Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Mon, 11/08/2010 9:56 AM | Opinion

Keep in mind that the victims of natural disasters in Indonesia, such as the floods in Wasior, Papua, the tsunami in Mentawai, West Sumatra, and the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi in Central Java, were not sinful people. They did nothing wrong. Nor did they commit adultery or any other evil deeds. These disasters were not God’s punishment.

Thus, insensitive remarks made by Tifatul Sembiring, the current communications and information Technology Minister, are absolutely unsympathetic. He said moral “depravity and decadence” had led to the natural catastrophes. This is simply a delusion.

Once again, the victims, like all Indonesians, are innocent people, but were plagued by misery, and because of this we have to extend our hands to help them. Condolences should be conveyed. Those who were drowned in the flood, swept by away by mountain-like waves, and burned by hot lava and ash were not punished because of their wrongdoings.

Remember that the most devastating disaster in the country’s history was the tsunami that hit Aceh five years ago. But that happened neither because the people were rebellious to the central government in Jakarta nor because they failed to enact Sharia law as they do now. In this case, religious norms and ethics are not the root causes.

It is true that certain natural catastrophes, such as global warming and flooding in Jakarta, were the consequences of mischievous human behavior. Man has somehow contributed to these miseries. We mankind are not committed enough to keep the balance of our ecosystem.

We have cut down too many trees in the forest, burned too much fuel, produced too vast a quantity of greenhouses gases, and failed to manage our cities wisely. We, mankind, are responsible for the destruction of some parts of this earth. Nature has been treated unfairly.

Nevertheless, natural disasters are often uncontrollable. It is beyond the ability of humans to avoid them. Scriptures and old chronicles — in their own ways — recorded the impacts of nature’s cruelty on human cultures and civilizations.

Noah and his people were confronted with a great flood — a story preserved and reenacted several times in the Babylonian texts, Sumerian texts, the Bible, the Koran and other Mediterranean traditions.

Furthermore, the Bible and the Koran also record the accounts of tribes, people, and villages destroyed by earthquakes, heavy rain, fire and plagues. As described in many science books, natural disasters and global climate change led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Just over a thousand years ago, the volcanic rage of Mount Merapi forced the old Javanese Kingdom to move from Central Java to East Java. Borobudur Temple, which stands as a testament to the ancient Javanese architecture, was buried by the volcano. An earthquake devastated Prambanan and other nearby temples many times.

From ancient times to present day, man has always faced nature’s wrath — a challenge that has stimulated man’s curiosity (from time to time) to further investigate the true forces of nature.

We Indonesians, surrounded by oceans and active volcanoes on the Ring of Fire should learn more lessons from nature. We should be able to differentiate between scientific explanations and mythical belief, so that preventive action can be taken.

Mbah Marijan, who was believed to be the spiritual guardian of Mount Merapi as entrusted by the Sultan of Yogyakarta, did not heed warnings from geologists that the mountain was ready to erupt. By staying put in his house on the slopes of the mountain he lost his life. Hot ash killed him.

His sad ending was not the result of his sins. But rather his mythical belief was the root cause of the grief. However, Mbah Marijan — like those who were hit by the tsunami in Mentawai, drowned by floods in Wasior and the two good men who tried to rescue him but instead died by his side — were innocent, not adulterous as theorized by Tifatul.

Mythical and religious perspectives, which can easily be distorted by preachers and politicians to make people afraid, still dominate our perception of nature. For the sake of our survival, warnings based on scientific observations and research should be heeded. Or else, Indonesians, like dinosaurs, will vanish.

The writer is a lecturer at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yogyakarta.

The Indonesian Government, struggling to get emergency supplies to those affected by the latest earthquake announced earlier this month plans to spend 100 Trillion Rp to upgrade their military. The defense minister said that 16.8 billion Rp would be needed for military upgrade over the next five years.