At press time, it’s not really known what happened to the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared carrying 239 people en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing this past weekend, whether it was sabotage, some kind of pilot error, or what. One minute there was a plane and then there was not.
The concept urges a specific kind of horror at the thought of what the last few seconds of life were like for those unfortunate individuals. Helpless and terrified and then dead; it is as good an advertisement for belief in afterlife as one could ask, but I don’t think we or they are so lucky. As I type, they’re searching for debris in the South China Sea. They don’t even know where the plane was lost, let alone why it happened.
Presumably by the time this sees print, those looking will have found some sign of what became of that flight and those 239 lives, or at very least tossed off some kind of, “Well the plane crashed, duh,” boilerplate explanation that, what do you know, indemnifies the airline from any wrongdoing. Two passengers reportedly had fake passports. The whole thing is a mystery.
I had occasion to be on an airplane a couple weeks back. I don’t think I’ve ever flown anywhere and not experienced mortal terror at some point along the way. Even the hour’s flight from Detroit to NYC gets up high enough that you’d be dead if the plane went down, though I guess that doesn’t take much more than 30 feet in most cases.
There’s nothing pleasant about flying. From the second you walk into the airport to the second you walk out, your person is assaulted, be it the violation of a security search, the cramped quarters in coach or the noise of jet engines. Add to that the fact that every time you fly, you know—no matter how many episodes of Big Bang Theory they throw at you—that you’re taking your life in your hands, and it’s a wonder that an “airline industry” exists. How could you possibly market such a thing to thinking, reasonable people?
Because it’s the best we’ve got, and nobody’s bothered to come up with anything better. It’s like we harnessed electricity, invented cars and airplanes and said, “Okay yeah, that’s good enough.” Then we, as a species, put people on the moon and were like, “Well okay, we’re even more awesome than we thought,” and the human race decided from that point on to coast on bullshit and marketing. Now I’m supposed to treat email on my phone or a new Mac OS like it’s the discovery of life on Mars. Innovation? It’s a word used to sell luxury vehicles that look the same as they did last year and are made of cheaper shit.
Because where there’s tragedy there’s someone with a camera, I saw a sand sculpture in or near Kuala Lumpur that said, “Pray God—Miracles Do Happen.” I understand these people are grieving, but are you fucking kidding me? How about instead of “praying god” we all get together and give some really, really smart person enough money to invent a mode of transportation that doesn’t just happen to fall out of the sky on random occasions? You know why that doesn’t happen? Profit margin.
We’d all be scooting around in Warp Drive by now if the money wasn’t so easy coming for less. I won’t speak for the world stage, but at this point, the U.S. is more or less run by its corporations. What affects your life more, Starbucks or Congress? If a company driven by motive for profit can meet its goals with a minimum effort, that’s the effort it’s going to make, which is why last time I got on Delta the plane looked like it was from 1979. Delta made more than half a billion dollars in the last fiscal quarter of 2013. Why change?
I don’t even know what kind of miracles you could ask for other than teleportation, but the point is you don’t need a miracle, you need real human innovative drive. You need something better than what you have. We’re right to feel helpless as we watch our planet go down the tubes—people 500 years ago thought they were seeing the same thing—but that shouldn’t mean we pack it in so early into the game. How could we have peaked? We haven’t started yet.