Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saving grace

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, at least since the beginning of the year, perhaps a bit longer. Certainly I have a tendency to loathe January – the beginning of the year, while traditionally beckoning a fresh start, seems to leave me melancholy and clamoring for the past. But that isn’t really the source of my depression. I seem to have a bit of problem with the news, mostly the fact that the world happenings of late seem to be rather atrocious. As a society we are constantly bombarded with a 24-hour news cycle of nothing but death, destruction, and pain – and recent events seem to be rolling into an avalanche that will certainly lead to the end of the world. Well, in my hyperbolic, depressed state, anyway. From the attack on Gaza to the Greek riots to the Russia/Ukraine gas dispute and people all over the world starving, unemployed, and losing their homes, it gets to the point where my heart is breaking so much that I start to feel numb.

Then on Thursday I hear that a plane has crashed. Another 100 or more people possibly dead. Another tragedy. It is a straw about to break this camel’s back. My mind is a swirl of anger – isn’t it enough that the world is going through what it is, without this? Did we really need a catastrophic plane crash right now??? I reluctantly switch to CNN, dreading more bad news, but hoping for something, anything that can save me, save us, from everything being bad all the time.

And there was something.

All 155 people on the plane survived. A plane ditched in the river in one of the most perfect plane crashes of all time. A pilot and co-pilot who know what they are doing, passengers who act without panicking, police and ferries and first responders all there ready, saving people, getting them out of the freezing water. At first you have to think of miracles, of a divine hand working some magic, and then you realize if there is a divine hand involved, it is simply showing us that this, THIS is what human beings are capable of. Not all tragedy. Not all pain. Not all bad.

Sure, this doesn’t solve the conflict in the Middle East. It doesn’t help Darfur. It doesn’t feed or clothe people, or provide running water. But it is 155 people who, for a few agonizing minutes on Thursday afternoon may not have thought they would still be alive today. What might have been a disaster became something good. If that doesn’t give us hope, nothing can.