Some events are just too horrific to comprehend, we all know, so I suppose it’s only human to invoke the gods or ancestors.
Mr Ishihara, 78, said yesterday that Japanese people were becoming “greedy” and highlighted the case of people who continue to pocket their parents’ pensions by delaying death notifications.
“It is necessary to wash away the greedy mind… by using the tsunami,” he told reporters.
“I think that it is divine punishment.”
Fortunately he had the good grace to “deeply apologise”, acknowledging the comments had hurt the victims.
Maybe it’s a cousin of the scapegoating propensity we fall into when things go wrong. Many of us have traditionally blamed the Jews, the socialists, progressive schooling, the foreigner, the down and out. But when the horror facing us is too much death itself, we have nowhere to look but to the divine executor. So why did this angel of death do this to us? Because of the Jews, the socialists, the down and out . . . . or whatever their appropriate substitute in the mind of the one trying to make sense of it all.
But there’s no sense to any of it. It’s all totally random. That ought to be the humbling fact that burns our flesh to share the pain and tenderness of our common humanity.