The whole world watched as the Iceland volcano erupted, and for more than a week, brought quite a part of Europe to a standstill.
The volcano, shooting 100meters high and supported by winds, sent ash crossing over the ocean into Europe, getting all flights cancelled , and to some extent affecting the other parts of the world too.
In Rwanda, some of the hotels like Beausejours did actually see a sudden decline in the number of hotel bookings, and which suddenly shot up the day after the European airports re-opened.
Perhaps most amazing was that the airlines were not prepared for this sudden turn of the events, showing once again that man, in all his might, will never be able to contain nature in all its elements.
You wonder why, with all this high level equipment for disaster preparedness, major tsunamis, floods and earthquakes still have the capacity to shake us up, especially when they unleash such unexpected fury.
At the most, we are able to save as many lives as possible, but taming nature? That’s for you to say. Each time we come up with ways of containing it, it somehow worms its way back in a meaner way.
But are elements the only forces of nature we combat with? When God created nature, including man, it was in some form of eco-balance, where death and birth are a part of the natural process for continuity and reproduction.
Someone wrote that if we dam a river to provide electrical power or invent a treatment for heart failure, we are in effect interfering with nature’s systems.
The problem is we don’t know when enough is enough, and how far we can go in controlling nature’s processes. In our humaneness, we create technologies, systems and medications to sustain and prolong our lives; meaning as well that anything will be done to limit and exploit the natural systems that can potentially destroy humanity.
In doing so, we actually create increased potential for destruction should the very systems being created give way to the natural processes.
Take for example, the Louisiana oil spill that is gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and threatening the coastline livelihoods and wildlife. Offshore drilling has been going on for a long time now, yet it is becoming almost impossible to contain the 42,000 gallons or more of oil that is pouring out every day.
Oil is an essential part of everyday living in this technology world, yet you shudder to think of the potential calamities it can bring about intentionally or unintentionally.
The irony is that although man is working day and night to find solutions that will improve our ways of living, it is these very same solutions or their side outcomes that in some way or other end up destroying what we have established.
When you start working out the ‘ifs’ and ‘don’ts’ of the things we do, it actually does get scary thinking of where this world is taking us, and whether the generations to come do really stand a chance.
But what to do? As long as we are humans and able to think round problems, solutions - drastic or not- will always have to come up. In order for us to have peace of mind, it’s then best to leave the rest to God.
But yet again, man in his reasoning capacity and wisdom, has a scientific question to each and everything, and starts doubting whether the supernatural actually exist.
That alone makes us search further and go beyond the possible in the quest for answers. Unfortunately, this always takes us back to square one with a slap in the face, when for example, the unexpected like the effects of the Iceland Volcano or Haiti Earthquake, come up to remind us that we are only a small pawn at the hands of the supernatural; or worse still, when tragedies out of our own doing like the oil spill, plane crashes or car accidents happen.
It is often said that ignorance is bliss and I believe that is true. It is best to let the scientists keep probing the unknown while I carry on unknowingly with a peace of mind, trusting all to God.
Haven’t you heard that one of the best ways to manage stress at work or play is through faith and prayer? It is even taught in the management books. In the meantime, perhaps I am better off not knowing what calamities are looming on earth…or am I?
Catherine Gashegu is a social commentator