Fear of the Unseen: Radiation and the Devil

I have often observed that more people are afraid of the devil than actually believe in God. The idea of a malign power bent on our destruction is somehow more believable than a loving God who has revealed himself to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. I think that is why some people spend their lives trying to ‘placate’ this unseen power. Their lives are more or less crippled by fear: it never really leaves them alone. (This may not be your experience: I suspect that clergy and nuns tend to hear the darker secrets of their fellow human beings, and fear often features largely.)

In the last few days we have seen the focus of attention move from the suffering of those affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami to what is happening at Fukushima. I don’t mean to underestimate the importance of what is happening there, but I find it strange that the world’s media is more concerned about what might happen than what actually has, and I think it all comes down to fear of the unknown. Radiation is something we cannot apprehend with the senses. It scares us because it is beyond our ordinary experience. We may pore over the statistics of the accidents at Windscale, Three Mile Island, even Chernobyl, but we can’t quite convince ourselves that we may not be facing armageddon. We are, quite simply, afraid, and at root the fear is for ourselves. Put like that, the need to help the Japanese suffering from cold and hunger becomes more urgent, even if it has fallen from the headlines. In so doing we may find we have helped ourselves.


14 thoughts on “Fear of the Unseen: Radiation and the Devil”

  1. I thought that this was a very interesting post and made many good points. I myself am terrified of the Devil and believe that I am right to feel like this.

    Also, I wondered if anyone had heafrd of Our Lady of Akito whose shrine is in the area of the earthquake.

  2. I get really annoyed at the way the media treat what is going on here in Japan. All the news agencies are in competition with each other for eyeballs that sensationalism has overtaken good practice and common sense. It seems good editing and proofreading has gone out the window in the search for the big, eye-catchin headline that screams out to be read.

    For a week or more, all the major agencies couldn’t get enough of Japan. Then all of a sudden, Libya’s the biggest deal in town. Hello, have all the suffering here in Japan just disappearred in puff of magic?

    I feel the biggest problem now is that the internet just exacerbates the problems. News is so instantaneous that there’s hardly any time taken to verify facts before publishing. Worse still, any Tom, Twit and Harry can now blog as fast as the news can get out, spewing forth garbage as though he or she was some kind of expert, and the legions of followers of each other just drink it in and pass it on. Everyone of these idiots claims to have heard from a friend of a friend in Japan etc with no need to prove that, and people just accept whatever is written as gospel. It seems people just enjoy spreading misery. So many foreigners here are blogging absolute rubbish about their situation. My friends and I have it up to our back teeth with this. Most of these people are hundreds of kilometres from danger yet their posting as though their lives are at risk. What is this? Some kind of vicarious exercise in empathy with the people who are actually suffering or some pathetic attempt to be a part of it, so that they can tell their friends when they get home that they heroically managed to live through such an event?

    Right. Rant off. Apologies, dear Sisters, for darkening the mood of your blog.

  3. Terry, your rant, as you call it, is entirely justified and I think all readers of the blog will be grateful for your comments. You know that you and your family are much in our prayers, as are other friends in Japan. I hope nothing I’ve said has added to your frustration. It is appalling the way in which the media has focused on just one aspect.

  4. Thank you, Sister. Your prayers are always most appreciated. Nothing you’ve said has added to my frustration.
    As always, only kind words and pearls of wisdom to be gleaned from your writings.

  5. There are of course many incarnations of the devil around us — people, forces, contamination, horrific crimes, frightful disregard of human and animal suffering, … and I could go on, Perhaps thoise creatures and forces are not THE devil, but they are everywhere, alas.

  6. I may be wrong-headed in this but I believe the devil is not external to us but resides in us, in our human nature, our sinfulness. And as such we may have something to fear. We have only to look around us and see all the horrible things man does man each and every day. But I also believe that we are not possessed only of the devil because we have also our Lord Jesus Christ who is our salvation. And he makes all the difference in the world. Faith dampens fear.

    In the midst of incomprehensible, devastating disaster it is easy to see God in all those who come to the aid of their brothers and sisters. The ‘devil’ is there too as Terry registered in his comment. May God help all who are in need.

    • I agree with much of your post Margaret. It is indeed heartening to see so many people coming to the aid of those in such desperate need in Japan.

      And yes I think that the devil does reside in us. You say that ‘as such we may have something to fear’. I feel that we definitely have much to fear if this is the case.

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