When we face more questions than answers

The disappearance of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 over the Java Sea at the weekend has left more questions than answers, especially coming as it has in the midst of the joyous Christmas season.

“Again?” was the immediate response of many of our Facebook followers after we posted the news that a second Asian airliner had vanished –– so far without a trace. Yvonne Griffith was even more expressive upon hearing the news of the seeming air tragedy.

She posted: “Again? Father Lord, come quickly. It’s not easy on planet Earth. Life is so transient –– here today and gone tomorrow.”

In an eerie reminder of the MH370 disappearance, which occurred en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing back in March with 239 passengers onboard, Flight 8501 has now vanished some nine months later  –– this time with 162 passengers.

As search officials in Indonesia and Singapore continue to scour an area of sea between Kalimantan and Java for clues, our thoughts and prayers are with anxious relatives and friends, who, understandably may not be in the best Christmas spirit right now. Far from it! In fact, with every passing hour, it gets harder and harder for any of them to appreciate the reason for the current season, as hope fades.

“Agonizing” is the word already being used by television journalists, who has been in direct contact with the families in Surabaya, Indonesia, struck by what seems now to be an unfolding airline tragedy.

From the few details that are currently available, we already know that the majority of passengers –– 155 were from Indonesia. The plane, an Airbus A320-200, was apparently midway into the flight of more than two hours from Surabaya when it literally vanished into thin air.

No distress call was made, but the missing jet had requested a “deviation” from the flight path to avoid thick storm clouds, AirAsia said. Indonesia’s Ministry of Transport also reported that the pilot had been given permission to climb to 38,000 feet, but sadly Flight QZ8501 never arrived as scheduled.

More lamentably, the two airline disasters alluded to have not been the only ones this past year.

While we here in Barbados have not been directly affected by this sort of tragedy in recent times, we should never develop an attitude that such would not happen to us. On the contrary, it can; and it has.

We just need to recall the deadly plane crash that occurred off the Bahamas just a month ago.

Among the nine people killed in that crash of the Lear 36 executive jet on approach to the island of Grand Bahama was the renowned pastor and motivational speaker Dr Myles Munroe and his wife Ruth, plus the youth pastor and his pregnant wife.

In addition to testing of our faith, tragedies such as these should serve as a reminder of the frailty of us all. Here today, and possibility gone the next –– sometimes without explanation or time to make amends.

That is why it is often said that we need to make the most of today, and with a thankful spirit, while mindful of the fact that there are always those worse off than us, and that our own circumstances could be much more awful.

Indeed, 2014 was not the worst year in terms of plane crashes. Statistically, flying is still far safer than driving, aviation experts insist. They have taken note of the World Health Organization’s report last year that about 1.24 million people die each year on the world’s roads. By contrast, the deadliest year in aviation –– 1972 –– had 3,346 deaths.

As we approach 2015, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of all human tragedies, knowing full well that our own fate could just as easily have been theirs. But let us also give thanks for the fact that it is not.


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