In the wake of yet another tragedy, Americans are once again in shock and mourning.
Columbia’s ill-fated journey further compounds the grief we’ve shared as a country over our losses on September 11, 2001 and the impending war with Iraq. Unfortunately, this mission was so understated most Americans didn’t even know what was going on – until it was over. I certainly had no idea.
In these times, the first speculation is terrorism, and while officials were quick to dispel such rumors, I have to wonder if maybe it would be better if this terrible disaster could be somehow attributed to yet another terrorist act against our country. Perhaps if that were the case we could find some sort of logic, some sort of consistency in this most recent travesty.
Of course, it won’t bring back the husbands and fathers, wives and mothers involved. Of course, it won’t help to numb the pain induced by such a sudden and unexpected devastation. However, I would think “technical failure” is hardly a substantial excuse for eliminating seven valuable lives forever. What do you do about “technical failure?”
At least if it were related to some acts of human design, retribution could be sought, debts could be paid, and closure could be expected – but “technical failure”? How could things go so terribly wrong? How can we, as a nation, cope once again with the unexplained, the unprecedented, the unmerited misfortune? Why do we have to endure one more random moment of tragedy? Haven’t we been through enough?
If it were terrorist-related, we could have someone to blame. If it were terrorist-related, we would have a direction to focus our anger. But if it’s not, the pain of those left behind has nowhere to manifest except in the graveyard of uncertainty where no closure can be sought.
How do we explain why bad things happen to good people? And where do we turn when no explanation can be sought? Our own technical failure is our compelling need for reasons; our unrelenting quest for answers; for anything to make certain unfortunate circumstances make sense or have some kind of purpose.
But maybe that’s just it – maybe the purpose is something too great for us to know or understand at this time; and just perhaps, if we stop trying to explain the unexplainable we can find some sort of closure in this chaos of distress.
Whitney W. Friedrich is a senior majoring in Advertising and English. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.