Robert Jordan, a young American, heard the news that the Spanish Civil War had broken out and decided to fight for the country. His mission was to defend the fortress to the last. Striving for three days, he finally achieved his mission. However, while trying to protect his beloved ones and colleagues, he was shot and killed by an enemy soldier. This is a summary of the novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway, whose motif comes from a poem by the British poet John Donne. The bell in the title of the novel refers to a funeral bell that tolls in memory of the dead. Hemingway delivers the poet’s message: The bell is tolling for a particular person but in the end it might as well be tolling for any of us who are all part of the same humanity, so we should not ignore the death of others. The novel urges readers to have love for humanity through the main character who demonstrated sacrifice by joining the war when he heard the bell from a battlefield of a far-away country. Half a century has passed since the death of Hemingway. Now the whole world appeals for the love of humanity. That’s because the sound of disaster is tolling unceasingly across the five oceans and six continents—Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania and America.
Riot in the sky—abnormal climate changes that have become an everyday occurrence
In 2010, approximately 300,000 people lost their lives in natural disasters. This figure is the highest annual death toll since 1976, and the estimated damage is three times higher than 2009. The eventful and disastrous year has passed, but in this year, too, the global village never has a peaceful day because of disasters that are being poured out regardless of place and time.
Korea has broken its all-time seasonal snowfall record, and it has also had the coldest winter in 100 years; every part of Korea—from Seoul to Jeju Island, incluing Gangwon province—suffered damages, large or small: traffic chaos, thousands of problems caused by freezing, mass deaths of farmed fish and shellfish, and much more. However, this is nothing compared to other countries. There was a tremendous amount of snowfall (186cm) in Tottori Prefecture, Japan, and it left 200,000 households without electricity and 190 fishing boats capsized. Some regions had so much snow, which was more than ten times the average snowfall of historical record; tens of people were buried to death in snow, and dozens of towns were isolated.
The “snow bomb” and frigid cold did not stop here but hit the whole of Europe. 6,500 schools in the UK were closed and in Berlin, Germany, traffic accidents on snowy roads occurred more than 100 times a day on average. As the major airports were closed, it caused a skyway jam, and in Moscow, Russia, there was a continuous mix of rain and snow, which caused transformer substations to freeze and electric wires to be broken; as electricity was down, 340 cities were left without electricity and 180,000 people suffered from the severe cold for a week. In countries such as Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Romania, many people were frozen to death.
On the other hand, the “water bomb” has also been dropping down in various places of the global village. Australia, which suffered from severe drought, is now facing the worst flood of this decade and 22 cities are submerged in water. The submerged area is approximately nine times the size of Korea. Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, was devastated as the river bank broke and a 2-3m instant “inland tsunami” struck the city. A flash flood also hit Toowoomba, a small city in Australia; as the residential area was submerged in the floodwater, over 200,000 people lost their livelihoods. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a landslide occurred after a record-breaking rainfall, which killed over 1,000 people in an instant. In Sri Lanka, one-forth of the land was flooded, and in the Philippines 1,000,000 people lost their homes after continuous heavy rains for three weeks. Germany, Italy and many countries on the Balkan Peninsula declared a state of national emergency because of an unreasonable flood.
Global climate patterns, which have lasted for thousands of years, are changing drastically. The problem is not simply that there are heavier rainfalls and snowfalls or lower temperatures than usual. In Syria located in the Middle East, snow fell for the first time ever in history. In Peru, Argentina and Uruguay, hundreds of people froze to death due to an unusual cold spell only a few months ago, and there are now murderous heat waves and droughts, and they are in a state of declared national emergency. Unexpected climate disasters are being poured out every day. Indeed, it is a continuous chaos of disasters.
Meteorologists attribute the root causes of those disasters to global warming. They say that the rise in temperature of the earth’s surface disrupts the atmospheric circulation system. The problem is that these abnormal climate changes never seem to stop happening. Meteorological experts say it is an undeniable fact that climate change is occurring and they warn, “This is just the start of abnormal weather changes from global warming.”
There is no safe place on earth
While all kinds of natural disasters, including unusual weather phenomena, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, are occurring all around the world, there is also an invisible disaster—that is food crisis. Agriculture is an industry most affected by climate change and other natural disasters. Due to the perpetual abnormal weather changes in recent years, there has been a drastic decrease in grain production in Russia, Australia, China and other major grain exporters. This shows just how important the weather is to agriculture. One billion people in the world have been suffering from starvation, and now far more people are hovering between life and death by “hunger” due to a drastic decrease in the production of grain crops. Even at this moment, one child is dying of hunger every five seconds throughout the world. The viruses which are mutating at a speed much faster than the development of new vaccines and various infectious diseases are also threatening human beings. The H1N1 virus which first appeared in California, USA, and infected 130,000 people and killed 800 people within just four months has reemerged and is raging in 100 countries around the world. Antibiotic resistant super bacteria are also spreading rapidly. These days, infected cases are also found in Taiwan, Japan and Korea, which have been classified as relatively safe countries, and it is terrorizing all of Asia. In addition, deadly plagues such as the pest [Black Death] and tuberculosis, which were believed to have disappeared decades ago, are reemerging.
Infectious diseases in animals are also out of control. Korea’s livestock industry is now in a crisis mode as foot-and-mouth disease has swept through the country. The Korean government is struggling to eradicate the disease by slaughtering 2 million cows and pigs, but it is unlikely to die down. To make matters worse, 800,000 poultry have been culled due to epidemics of avian tuberculosis and influenza which cannot be controlled because there is no vaccine or treatment for them at present, and 95% of native bees died in a mass from an unidentified virus. Those engaged in the livestock industry are deeply troubled by a series of devastating epidemics in livestock. Human beings are now in such miserable and helpless situations.
For whom the bell tolls
The bell of disaster is tolling throughout the world. The mass media such as newspapers, TV and the Internet is pouring out news about disasters without missing a beat. In the face of these unavoidable and unstoppable disasters, human beings are just trembling with fear. In this disastrous age when a loud cry for salvation is resounding all over the world, God asks the prophets—those who have understood the truth earlier—to preach the truth of salvation to all nations (1 Th 2:4).
Ps 91:1-7 『He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. . . . nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.』
Let us examine ourselves who have already received the promise of salvation and safety from God: Do we not consider other people’s crises as everyday affairs, accustomed to hearing the bell of disaster even though it is tolling so loudly? Are we not just watching with our arms folded?
Jas 2:14-16 『What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?』
Lk 12:54-57 『He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. . . . You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”』
Now is the time for us to discern this present time and wake up. We have the mission to proclaim the good news of salvation to all peoples. Let us toll the bell of life loud until all human beings, who are suffering from disasters, come into the arms of God. We must not ignore our neighbors in crisis but run to them and tell them the good news of life, so that all people in the world can enjoy eternal peace and happiness under the protecting wings of Elohim.
Mt 24:42-45 『“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. . . . Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?”』