I was visiting another chapel yesterday - the service was on the theme of joy. Towards the end the service leader said something along the lines of what a dreadful six months the world had had with earthquakes and tsunamis; the threat of nuclear contamination; and the Arab uprisings bringing death and destruction. There may have been more - my memory tends to be a bit hazy these days.
I was struck by this reflection on the last six months - there had been many days when there were no earthquakes and no tsunamis. There were countries where there was no political unrest and no civil war. There would probably be many people who would say that they had had a good six months. And anyway, 'What do we expect of life?'
Whether we believe the gods or God has a hand in it, what is our expectation? That life will always be trouble free, that the sun will shine during the day and it will rain only at night? That all people will live together in harmony? That the natural world will always be at peace?
We only have to look at Wikipedia on the page on natural disasters to see that they happen on a fairly frequent basis - for example did you know that 56,000 people died in Russia last year due to a heat-wave? On the page on ongoing conflicts over 15,000 died last year in Mexico's war on drugs. So part of this is about what gets reported -perhaps a heat-wave is not as spectacular as an earthquake plus a tsunami, despite it killing many more people. Perhaps the war on drugs only kills people who are seen to be guilty.
I think that we need to accustom ourselves to the facts: our world can be a dangerous place. We, here in the UK, in 2011 are fortunate to live at a time and a place when we are safer than the vast majority of humanity. So it is not just when the news tells us that there are dreadful events happening but all the time that we need to be mindful of our own privilege and not squander it.