On Appeasing Gods

I can understand right now, with giant fires bearing down on us, and billowing toxic smoke and plague in the air, how people less informed about the nature of the world would try to put a face on these implacable forces and somehow petition them for relief. I can imagine all the rituals I would do, and see the temptation to make sacrifices, as if the Giant Force might be satisfied with eating just a little instead of the whole countryside.

And I can see how it would be deadly serious business, if, say, you lived on an island composed of live volcanoes, or a place prone to earthquake.

My region has seen such disaster over the past three years. The Tubbs Fire of 2017 burned within a half-block of my house, destroyed about 20% of the city where I live and killed 12 people. In 2018, the big fires that leveled the city of Paradise were away from us, but the smoke blanketed us to remind us of destruction happening not too far away. There was an earthquake centered in Napa (30 miles away) in 2018 that kicked the hell out of their downtown, and then the Kincade Fire of 2019, which came within mere feet of erasing the town five miles north of us, and for which we were evacuated twice in one night.

And then there is COVID-19, the invisible killer that has turned our society upside down.

Now it’s fire again, and prepping to bug out, and having to think about what we would take and what we would leave.

The powerlessness is galling. There is literally nothing we can but wait and see. I’m sure it would be comforting, on the one hand, to be able to trot down to the temple and make an offering to That Which Destroys.

But on the other hand, then I would have to live in a world where giant personalities capriciously decided to wipe out people and their homes. Somehow, to me that is much worse. I can live with the insensate forces of Nature far more easily than with genuinely malicious gods.

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