By: Kandakai Sherman
I’m not equipped to answer the question, but apparently there are lots of religious leaders in Liberia who can. The most recent evidence they’ve identified to make the case for God’s anger with Liberia is the Ebola outbreak in our country. We are being punished in a way, for our sins. And the list is long. But here’s a condensed version:
Again and again we get fed this hamster wheel cycle of blame attribution to God whenever something doesn’t go our way, or when we get the results we should because of our inability or failure think, visualize the future we want, and then plan and execute to achieve it.
Let me hasten to acknowledge the contributions religious institutions are making towards the development of the country. The many schools, hospitals, and radio stations are playing an important role in filling the gaps where our government is absent.
It is difficult to reconcile “God’s anger’ with the country if one considers that Liberia could be better off in any one of the above mentioned sinful categories when paired against other countries based on overt data. Some countries that have even legislated Gay and Lesbian rights for example are doing very well in the human development index.
The tendency to blame God for some things beyond our control is not purely a construct of the Liberian religious leadership. Blaming God has been a staple as far back as ancient Egypt, if some historical narratives are anything to go by. We’re told in biblical accounts that the Israelites blamed God for removing them from Egyptian bondage into the wilderness when the going got tough. Imagine the ancient Egyptians trying to apportion blame among their many deities for the departure of their slaves.
The destruction and devastation of the bubonic plague that killed millions of people between the 14th to 17th centuries was a trying time on the European continent. The plague, also known as the “Black Death”, did not have any cure. The medical community then could not explain its origin or cause. As a result of their helplessness against the disease, some Europeans blamed Heaven (indirect reference to God). Others who shared the stage with God for the blame included lepers, panhandlers, and outsiders. Pastors and religious leaders were the last refuge of the afflicted, with many seeking blessings from the men of God.
But as societies evolved and began to develop simple tools to solve some of their problems, they stopped blaming God for every little thing they previously held him accountable for. There were now some better explanations for the “God did it “abstract.
The twenty first century is a far cry from medieval times. Advances in modern medicine have led to discoveries in the genetic makeup of diseases and viruses, allowing scientists to develop cures that have proved beneficial in combating modern day versions of plagues.
The recent successes of the Ebola experimental drug zMapp should be reason for optimism that the world will continue to mature in our understanding of, and reaction to many of the questions that our ancient ancestors could not decipher. Rather than “who did it”, we now search for the ‘why did it happen”, and then move on to “how to solve it”, or prevent and contain a recurrence.”
In this day and age, many of our religious leaders would do well to stop describing God’s emotional state to us and blaming him for our problems. Or would they?