By Wendy Murray
In general, the initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet went down in the ocean quickly transitions to the benumbed interlude of grief watching the mournful recovery of seats, suitcases, and severed ailerons. In any case, the laws of physics have been obeyed. From that vantage point, the world still spins on its course.
This is the third day in the aftermath of that initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet disappeared, Malaysia Airlines MH370. Sometime between one and two hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia bound for Beijing, China, at a cruise altitude of 34,000 the radar went blank. One second the flight was there, the next second it was gone. Initial speculations abounded, predictably. The plane had made an emergency landing; the plane had been hijacked; terrorists did something so catastrophic the pilots had no chance to place a distress call.
As time as gone on, those scenarios begin to feel consoling. Why? Because neither the logic nor the physics are adding up. If the plane blew up, where is the debris? Surely one portion of one floating seat cushion would have washed up by now. If the plane malfunctioned, the experienced pilot would have signaled distress in some way. The radar would have registered it somehow. And what about satellite imagery? In the age of ubiquitous NSA spying, how can it happen that a Boeing 777 disappears without a trace? Let us not forget that the 239 passengers and crew were probably carrying Smartphones. If something was going terribly wrong, wouldn’t one of them made an attempt to reach a loved one on the ground?
None of these laws of planes crashes have applied (yet). There was no distress signal, no last-minute calls to loved ones, no witnesses, no sounds, and most troubling of all now that the search is one day-3: no debris.
Someone tweeted: “Where r u?” That question has united the planet.
Search teams from Malaysia, Singapore, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and the United States (including the FBI) — some sending warships and offering submarines — have been mobilized. During the most recent press conference held by the director general of the Department of Civil Aviation in Malaysia said, “There is still no sign of the aircraft.”
The Twitter-sphere captures it best:
Why not wish for it? We are in that foreign netherworld of “anything can happen.”
The search continues. The world waits, languishing for the relief of floating wreckage. What will become of us if the rules of air catastrophes collapse? Warships and submarines and the exercises from multiple nations can not save us.
We are in God’s realm then. It is both terrifying and consoling.
The standard heartbreaking script of air crashes may yet play out when it comes to the mysterious case of MH370. Assuming it does and we find wreckage, we can all go back to the consolation that we understand the way the world works.
Until it does, consider the hopefulness of this interlude: a world finds itself in unity looking to God, who is the last hope and who is in control.