More than 30 people are thought to have died since Mt Ontake in Japan erupted without warning on Saturday. It is a huge tragedy, and yet another startling reminder of the power of nature.
Some might say, how can one worship the spirits of nature when they can be so cruel? Why do the kami punish innocent people like this?
Nature is just nature. It is simply a volcano’s nature to erupt. There is no cruelty or punishment involved; the volcano would have erupted if there were 30,000 people on it, or none at all. Humans are a part of nature, and we are very much the same – most of us do not want to inflict pain or suffering on other living things, but it is an inevitable part of how we survive.
The Japanese are well aware of this. For thousands of years, they have lived on a group of islands that are subject to the earth’s most deadly forces – volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami. But the same volcanic activity that brings about these disasters also makes Japan’s earth rich and fertile, which is no doubt part of the reason for Japan’s prosperity throughout history. It is a “high-risk, high-reward” existence.
Mt Ontake is considered sacred in Japan, and even after this tragedy, it will continue to be viewed with reverence and respect.
May the victims of the eruption Rest In Peace, and may all our thoughts be with their families and their communities at this most painful time.