We simply don't know all the answers

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 04:50 PM.

I’ll start by writing up front that I have compassion for the loved ones and friends of those apparently killed on Malaysia Flight 370. I’ve lost comrades in military plane crashes, so I have a sense of their loss. I can empathize a little with what they’re feeling. Although not knowing exactly what happened to the passengers of Flight MH370 adds a dimension to this mystery, I have not experienced and therefore admit I cannot feel. At least I cannot feel it in the same way as the loved ones of those on the plane.

But, oh, how smug we are. And impatient. We have come to believe we have all the answers — that we know it all or should know it all. That we’re completely in control. And that we should have the answers whenever we want them at the click of our fingers.

We have satellites and air traffic control and radar and radios and computers. We have the National Security Agency that can allegedly track a single cell phone half way around the world. Our world has, at least apparently, become so small and so well understood and is so connected and monitored, how could we possibly “lose” a jet airliner?

I understand there may be something lost in the translation from Mandarin Chinese to English. Nonetheless, loved ones of passengers are, according to several media outlets, “demanding the return of our relatives, no strings attached” — as if human authorities dealing with this tragedy are manipulating events like a puppet is manipulated on a string. Do the grieving really believe the power exists on earth to return their relatives? I understand the need for closure, but how smug can we be?

The news media isn’t helping. It seems as if every one of the scores of times in the last several weeks a soda can is spotted by a satellite floating in the 28,400,000 square-mile Indian Ocean the news media screams that possible debris has been spotted. None of these false reports has panned out.

The story of the boy who cried wolf, an old story likely unheard by a majority of the millennial-aged and foreign news reporters, applies here. The news media keeping their mouths closed until there is real news would help the families. But doing so doesn’t sell Ginsu knives.

We’re so smug. We humans have even incredulously claimed recently that we’ve heard the sound of the so-called Big Bang, the theory of how our universe was created some 13.798±0.037 billion years ago, by listening to signals collected by satellites. In what’s being called “an extraordinary breakthrough,” scientists, including University of Washington Physicist John Cramer, claim to have listened to sounds emitted from the Big Bang. If we really can hear infinitesimally small signals trillions of miles away from the Big Bang multi-billions of years ago, why can’t we find a jet airliner that crashed in water a couple miles deep in a few hundred thousand square-mile search area three weeks ago?

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