Roar Sheppard (poor guy, his parents doomed him from the start) is a “New Humanity Culture leader” and director of the Overseas Seon Culture Life Museum.
In an article for the Korea Times, he writes about the earthquake in Japan and links it to other recent natural disasters. Then:
I wanted to ask nature, what is the reason for abnormal conditions of the Earth to appear all of a sudden? This was the answer I received.
How can we say all of these are separate phenomena? The one organism, the Earth is showing the signs here and there. Human death and shortage of grains ― these are only the result. Take a look at the fundamentals that are giving rise to these.
What is the present condition of the Earth? When people and nature are uprooted from their homes like in Japan, swept away by extreme rains in Pakistan, how do you think the Earth feels which is the basis of all of these?
If you live on the Earth ― no ― if you are a being with a heart, when you stare at the Earth in this situation, you should wail. Are glaciers melting? Do you know what it will cause to the Earth? It means the immune system and basic circulation of the Earth is collapsing.
If your digestive system has a disorder even slightly, you can’t perform normal activity, can you? Even though the Earth has serious disorders in all of its organs, especially serious damage in essential organs, it is still circulating its blood here and there to send nutrition even now. That is nature.
I sorta agree that we need to take better care of the Earth, but even my so-common-it’s-cliched phrase bothers me. Whatever happens to humans or living things, the Earth will be okay. Well, as okay as any inanimate, non-responsive, non-thinking thing can be. A big rock is okay, after all, even after you break it. It is now in two pieces but the change doesn’t matters to the rock.
There are some useful lies out there. Perhaps belief in Santa does make kids better behaved in December and the companies that make Christmas donations to charity might not if there were no Santa.
… I’ve decided to leave religion out of this argument as much as I can. The author is director of a Buddhist organization so I have to bring it up but I guess I don’t need to connect it with useful lies.
Anyway, there are useful lies and metaphors can carry important ideas. If we think of the Earth as a living thing that we need to better care for, perhaps we will behave better: we might, for example, work to reduce fossil-fuel use, fight acid rain and other forms of pollution, and be more careful of just how much we harvest out of the ocean.
So long as we keep in mind that we are only discussing a metaphor and not truly thinking of the Earth as sentient, I am satisfied.
However, Roar continues in the same vein and overworks the metaphor – if it is, indeed, a metaphor for him. I do not believe it is.
However, it is not that the Earth will just watch humans do this forever, because the Earth also has to maintain its balance as a member of the universe.
The events happening now are nothing in fact. It’s already in the state where the balance has begun to crack, and the imbalance will only speed it up and the rate will get even faster.
Even though you know we are headed toward a cliff, we can say it’s a runaway car that cannot be stopped. Please understand the Earth’s situation where it has no choice but to take action.
I’ve questioned in the past whether I let Buddhism get away with such claims, as I do not offer such latitude in my consideration of Christian claims, but this is far enough into the realm of science that reading it bugs me. How much does it bug me? Enough to break my nearly month-long silence on this blog, that’s how much!
Anyway, in addition to disliking Roar’s statements even as metaphor, I also dislike them if uncritically accepted. I imagine an angry mob with pitchforks driving them into the ground while chanting, “Earthquake, huh? Take that, jerk.” After all, if we accept the Earth is actually deliberately quaking or that the previous quakes, and other entirely explainable-through-meteorology natural disasters were twitches of a waking beast and could deliberately quake again, we should obviously be ready to counter attack or try to blackmail the Earth into good behavior.
I am an environmentalist but I can only see improvement in our situation coming through better education, but nightmarish threats of the Earth itself fighting against us don’t help.