In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Why did Hurricanes Katrina and Rita happen? It is, perhaps, an unanswerable question. Despite this, however, there have been scores who claim to have an answer. Those that amuse me the most are the ones who insist Katrina was “God’s punishment.” Punishment for what? Some said it was punishment for the sins of New Orleans. Others said it was punishment for supporting the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza strip. Still others said it was punishment for legalized abortion in this country. It’s funny, isn’t it, that God is speaking to so many people nowadays, telling them the full details of the inner workings of His Plan?
Yet, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Katrita for short) have shown the country a great many things, and quite a few of those things are most unpleasant. Yet, will we, as a country, listen to what Katrina and Rita told us? Katrina exposed the plight of the poor and black in our country, and the response to Katrina on the part of the government was a national abomination. Yet, even though the response to Rita was better, will we as a country heed the calls of Katrita for racial and economic justice? I am not so sure.
Yet, beyond this lesson of Katrita’s aftermath, there was one thing about the one-two punch of these hurricanes that could never escape me. Katrita showed how vulnerable America truly is; Katrita brought the all-powerful United States to her knees, for all the world to see. And what was Katrita, after all? Wind and water, nothing more, nothing less. Yet, this concoction of wind and water was able to render the government of the United States wholly impotent. It is a powerful lesson in humility. Yet, are we going to listen to Katrita?
I am not saying that God sent Katrita to remind America that she is not as powerful as she sometimes deludes herself to be. I do not claim to know the inner-workings of God’s Plan. Still, the hurricanes do remind me – at least – that there is always something more powerful than ourselves, and the Most Powerful of all that are powerful is the Lord God. And it should serve to keep us in check.
In my daily practice of critical care medicine, it is quite easy to get lulled into thinking that I am God. With a split-second decision, I can “save someone’s life.” I can put a breathing tube into someone’s trachea and prevent them from dying from respiratory arrest. I can give someone a drug and make their heart resume beating. I can give an antibiotic and save someone from dying from overwhelming infection. I have experienced all these things, thank God. That is the whole point: THANK GOD.
It is only by the Grace of God that I was able to bring healing to these patients. I do not heal, God does. All I do is fill out the paperwork (I wish I could claim that as my own, but I got it from a TV show). There are many times when – despite doing everything “by the book,” despite giving everything you’ve got – patients simply do not get better. It is these cases that humble me. They serve to remind me that I am not the one who determines who lives and who dies. There is Someone Else that does that, and I am ever so vigilant at reminding myself each and every day of that inescapable fact.
Would that our leaders learn the same type of lesson from Katrita. Would that our leaders – who claim to worship and serve The One Whose Name is Holy – learn that this country is not an all powerful land that can do whatever it wants. Would that our leaders forever shed their imperial hubris and save this country and its people from a perpetual civilizational conflict that ensures nothing but mutual destruction. Would that our leaders learn to engage in dialogue rather than envelope in dynamite. Would that our leaders listen to the screams of Katrita and change their ways for the better. From my keyboard to God’s Ears. Amen.