Disasters, Natural & Unnatural
by Fr. Rick Stansberry
If you were a parishioner at Christ the King you would most likely hear me, from time to time, rant about Social Media and the problems that it can cause or how in contributes to the problems in the world. Social Media, like anything else, can do a lot of good. It can also cause a great deal of harm. With the recent hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes in Mexico and endless terrorist attacks, Social Media gives us ready access to news, like we have never had before. In fact, studies have shown that we are given more information than our brains can process. Today, we are exposed to so much bad news that it can be overwhelming.
Certainly, bad things have happened in History. Just make a visit to Pompeii or Herculaneum and see how an entire city vanished in a matter of hours when Mt. Vesuvius erupted over one thousand years ago. There have been wars throughout history and we read about the seemingly endless terrorist attacks in the world and at home. Certainly, World War II and Hitler gave new meaning to the words cruel and inhumane. But good things followed and there are great stories of heroism and protection in that conflict. Even in the horror of 9-11 and weeks and months following, there were stories of people risking their lives to help others and to help the families who’s loved ones were killed. Lower Manhattan rebounded and is more vibrant than ever, just like our own downtown has rebounded after the Federal Building was bombed on April 19th, 1995. We cannot let the terrorists take away our hope and make us afraid to do things. Sometimes I see and hear so much bad news that when someone from the Church or School staff calls me, rather than saying hello, I respond, “what’s wrong?”
During all this bad news, we can be overwhelmed and can lose hope. However, social media can also show us the good things that can come out of these terrible disasters. In spite of the bad in the world, there is much good. For example, a good friend of mine has two sons at Strake Jesuit High School in Houston. The school organized groups of students to go out and help people who were stranded or needed help cleaning up once the waters receded. Many organizations organized all kinds of drives benefitting the hurricane victims. This shows that there is still much good in the world, and many people want to help make the world a better place. Certainly, Rotary is no exception, from the eradication of Polio to helping bring clean water to many places, Rotarians all over the world are brining hope by heeding the call of service.
Another great sign of hope, as we heard from our guest speaker a few weeks ago, is Archbishop Paul Coakley, regarding the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother from Okarche. The life of Fr. Rother offers hope as he gave his life in defense of the most helpless and hopefully brought about some changes in the lives of the people of Guatemala. Certainly, I have witnessed a renewed faith, even in our local community, as people read about this ordinary man who grew up outside of OKC, ate Eischen’s Fried Chicken, harvested wheat, showed Cattle and yet received a call to serve the Lord and is now recognized all over the world as a Martyr. So, when we get overwhelmed by all the bad news in the world, it’s good to sometimes stop and think about all the good that is going on, as well. Each of us, in our own way, can come out of ourselves and help to make the world a better place. These things give us hope that regular people like us can do extraordinary things to mitigate the natural and unnatural disasters we must live with.