Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

January, 2004

Unanswerable Questions

The recent devastating earthquake in Bam, with a death toll in the tens of thousands has touched anyone with ties to Iran, or to Zoroastrianism, or for that matter, anyone with a shred of humanity inside them.

The sheer magnitude of destruction is unfathomable. While we try to get our head around the numbers, they merely become statistical figures with no way of having a human grasp for them.

And naturally this arises questions within us. When we lose a loved one to an untimely death, after we get over the initial shock and grief, we begin our questioning. Why? Why did this happen to so and so?

A devastation of such magnitude also brings up the same line of questioning. When we see pictures of covered bodies lying in mass graves, or mothers kissing their daughters while still partly covered under the debris, or the ruined city blocks, we cannot help asking, "what did they do to deserve this? Why them? Why was it that a few days earlier, an earthquake of similar magnitude in California took only two lives, but in Bam, it had to be tens of thousands?"

But these are merely intellectual exercises. These are questions that have no answers. And even if they did have answers, they could not possibly diminish the pain and the heartache. Even if we could come up with a reasonable answer to these, we may be able to satisfy our minds, but our souls would still be wounded.

So what is one to do?

Perhaps a more practical and worthy reaction would be to ask answerable questions. Perhaps it would work better for the survivors in Bam, if we simply accept the fact that the earth has moved, and the damage has been done. The better question would be something like, "What now? What can I do to help my brethren? How can I alleviate some of the pain?"

Yes, perhaps it is time to stop asking the "why" questions that can only be answered by the Creator, and focus on the "what" and the "how" which are more human.

Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
January 2004

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