Bam Earthquake Kills 20,000
The enormity of 20,000 persons being suddenly wiped out by an earthquake is just hard for me to fathom. There is an old custom in the Middle East and South Asia of seeing such incidents as a sign of God’s displeasure. That way of thinking strikes me as sick (even though Gandhi, Abdul Baha and other very moral men adopted it).
In fact, the earthquake was caused by the Indian subcontinent, which detached itself from Africa millions of years ago, careened into Asia and threw up the Himalayas (relatively young mountains), and is still pressing up against Eurasia. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India are seismically active because of this major set of faults.
It had nothing to do with God’s moral judgment on Bamians. Indeed, this sort of incident seems to me to prove that the universe has not been set up for human beings particularly. If they get in the way of the laws of nature, and they do nothing to protect themselves, they get crushed. The earthquake killed so many people because provincial Iranian towns are built of adobe and lack any sort of eathquake proofing. When earthquakes hit during the day, they aren’t so bad. But this one hit at 5 am, collapsing buildings onto sleeping families.
The Iranian regime is already unpopular, and a disaster of this magnitude could become political. The government will be judged by how quickly and how well it does relief work for the survivors (the desert is cold at night). It may also be blamed for not having pushed earthquake-proofing of buildings.
Another disaster is that the quake destroyed the famous citadel of Bam, the more prominent features of which were built by Nadir Shah in the 18th century, and which was a big tourist attraction and potential future source of wealth. It probably can’t be rebuilt, and any way UNESCO discourages that sort of phony restoration for touristic purposes.
The US and Iran have had bad political relations for decades now, and there is much demonizing of Iranians in America. This moment is auspicious for Americans to show generosity to the Iranian people. The survivors need our help, even if we can only give a little each. For things like this I personally give to the Red Cross/ Red Crescent.