Sunday, March 9, 2014

Words when there are none...

I can't stop checking for updates on MH370. Twitter, as usual, is my main source of information because it's the most up-to-date, even if it's packed with too much theory. A healthy dose of skepticism and checking the feeds of legitimate news sources usually helps me fill in the gaps.

I have had a sinking feeling in my gut since waking up yesterday to the first alerts regarding the missing aircraft. Aircraft do not "go missing." This is no Amelia Earhart in a tiny plane over uncharted territory, this is a Boeing 777 with over two hundred souls on board vanishing from the highly technologically-advanced radars of multiple developed countries. It has become one of the largest search missions ever seen, with planes and boats from all over the world looking for a single sign beyond a pair of twin oil slicks that this plane is somewhere on earth. 

Adding to the tension is the chilling fact that two passengers came on board with stolen passports. While this may be coincidental, the world's gossip feed - Twitter - is buzzing mightily with theories that it's not. And there's no evidence to the contrary. But right now, it's all just speculation sprinkled with the usual unwelcome fear-mongering.

In my new life as an expat, my world is both shrinking and expanding like some alternative universe. Where once, countries like Malaysia and planes filled with foreigners were so very far away from home, suddenly they are not. My perspective on world events is shifting. This is not to accuse Americans of being as uncaring and desensitized as much of the rest of the world seems to think. But it is an indication of how isolated we are in the world, how far away from everyone else who is crowded onto this side of the planet. Americans have fewer ties with other countries by nature of its geographical loneliness, and also by virtue of its sheer size. The US covers more inches of the map and therefore has more news generated within its own borders than any other country in the world (except maybe Russia...I'm not up on my geographical proportions). Moving to another country, one that is smaller than the US state of Maine, is changing my perspective drastically because suddenly I am living in a place with international neighbors on all sides. While this by no means makes me suddenly some global diplomat, it does mean that I am exposed to and absorbing much more world news than I ever did before.

Additionally, in my new expat life I have made several friends who work for Etihad, the major airline of the UAE. I had the good fortune of becoming extremely close with a former cabin crew attendant (who I sadly had to leave back in Baltimore) and she taught me a lot about the life of a flight attendant and the demands and scares and excitement of the job. I can't stop thinking about the Malaysian crew members aboard the flight, and how, despite extensive training and incredible preparedness, something - who knows what - had to have gone horribly, horribly wrong aboard MH370. I have intense feelings about anyone whose job puts them in dangerous places or risky situations, but for a cabin crew member this is the worst of the worst of situations, regardless of what happened. 

Tension in the Muslim-nonMuslim world is already rippling and while there are kind, open-minded individuals begging the world's community to pray for these souls regardless of religious affiliation, I know that fear mongering spawns hatred and distrust. There are so many people in this world who believe that terrorism is synonymous with Islam, and it's difficult to blame them entirely for their ignorance when you look at how these things are portrayed in the media. When the Boston marathon bombing occurred last year, my first thought was - "Please let it be some crazy old white man living in a remote cabin and talking to aliens and not anyone claiming to be of the Muslim faith." Ignorance, particularly the fearful and egotistical brand of American ignorance, refuses to acknowledge the basic fact that Muslim people do not do bad things - bad people do bad things. 

That rant may be off-topic and fueled by side conversations and speculation, but my feelings on the subject exist outside of this issue. Regardless - an entire plane has gone missing, and, as usual, the many conflicting faces of humanity are playing themselves out in the Twittersphere with rants and accusations and prayers and "facts" that are not really facts. And then, among the static and deafening noise, there are posts of pure love, of total sadness, motivated by nothing more than the aching hearts of those who are frightened and devastated and hoping for the best but understanding that in a case like this, the disappearance of a plane is overwhelmingly indicative of the very worst. I find hope in these posts, from all over the world, and I find pride for America when I see posts of concern and hope from my fellow countrymen who are so far away and yet still connected. 

I hope and pray for resolution, answers, and peace. For love and understanding. For more of this and less finger pointing and fear and terror. I hope that the souls on board MH370 are peaceful, wherever they may be, and that the best of humanity outweighs the worst. 

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