The Four Disasters That We Face

Sorry, but this is Friday the Thirteenth, and the world faces disaster after disaster, with no exit in sight. Jean Paul Sartre, the Nihilist philosopher, wrote a play called “No Exit”,   in which he portrays three people walled in a room forever and hating each other. Sartre’s main theory was that people are hell, when they are unable to love each other. I find a remarkable parallel in the disastrous condition of our planet today

First of all, our climate is collapsing, mostly due to the excessive use of fossil fuels, causing a greenhouse effect. It seems impossible to stop this abuse because we humans fail to love each other and our mother earth, enough to change our habits of living that are abusing the planet. We don’t love our bodies and we don’t love our mother earth.

Secondly, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is daily increasing in its victims exponentially mostly because we do not love each other enough to curtail our own freedom to do what we want in order to safeguard others who need us to protect them.

Thirdly, we in the United States do not love each other enough to create a society that cares for the least among us.

Fourthly, the polarization between the right and the left, between the rich and poor, between the lighter skinned and the darker skinned, between the newer immigrants and the older immigrants, between the “educated elite” and the less educated. The list goes on and on ad nauseum, but always the same cause: we do not love each other enough, we do not understand that we are all equal as human beings, and we cannot have a unity based on truth without love, or love without that truth.

I am 91 years old. How do I face this abundance of disaster? All my life, I have been optimistic. My favorite poem was “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” Not any more. I believe in a different God now: a God who is vulnerable. What do I mean by a vulnerable God? A God who is organically connected to material reality, a God who is the soul of the body which is the universe. This is the God    in whom “we live, and move, and have our being.” This is the unknown God that Paul spoke of to the Greek philosophers. This unknown God is the One who has become incarnate in US.

God is vulnerable in this planet which is His/Her own body, and in each of us in whom He/She lives. Vulnerability is not something to feel good about. It is something to feel bad about, sad about. We have to learn how to be comfortable with this discomfort. And this discomfort will lead to compassion, and compassion will lead to love. And then finally, on this planet, in this country, the power of love will overcome the love of power. God help us. Enjoy the pain.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ken Knapp

    Hi Sal, I was just sitting here thinking how much I wanted to get a copy of Sartre’s “No Exit” which I read long ago. And then you write about it with such a succinct insight. Thank you.

    I also want to thank you for steering me onto Tony Equale. I read him constantly now and find his insights penetrating.

    Ken Knapp

  2. Sal Umana

    Ken, You are a living example of the vulnerability, compassion, and fortitude that I speak of. If I could remember all the fruits of the spirit from St. Paul, I would accuse you of all of them. Love, Sal
    P.S. Right now you are enclosed in a hell where 330 million people don’t love each other very much.

    1. Bob Graf

      God as “vulnerable” ! I guess that fits with God welcoming the Prodigal Son. Thanks Sal for a new slant on the human quest to encounter God.

      Bob Graf

      1. Sal Umana

        Bob, I have been listening to Richard Rohr’s “Alternative Orthodoxy” for about 6 months. It’s on Apple Podcasts. Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation espouse the alternative orthodoxy of the Franciscans, especially Bonaventure and Duns Scotus. The have always taught incarnational spirituality where Jesus is the universal
        Christ, embedded in the universe, and a symbol of the universe as the body of God. (Also St. Paul’s Body of Christ spirituality. If you listen to a podcast you will get it immediately.) I tell you, I would not be able to survive all the above disasters if I didn’t believe that God is in this mess with us. Or as Tony Equale says, similarly, we are organically one with God.
        Sal Umana

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