We have seen hijackers, terrorists, and suicide bombers rush in to kill and destroy. That is horrific. Yet now, the stealthiness of one who is inside, trained to protect lives because they are precious, also killing and destroying, is even more heinous because of the trust that is broken. The very people into whose hands I place my life and assume they will regard it as worthy of protection, have become the ones who treat it as least and worthless. Being trapped on a rapidly moving mass transport and totally helpless to protect myself, get to safety, or help any other person, doesn't bear thinking about.
I thought of the self-centeredness of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, wanting to take his own precious life that God gave him, but also 150 others'. I thought about the Costa Concordia, the largest cruise ship ever wrecked, (in 2012) and its Captain Francesco Schettino's inattention and series of ridiculously amateur decisions and as a result stoving in his ship on a rock. As the vessel was sinking, the captain abandoned ship, leaving 4200 passengers and crew to their fates. He did not assist in the evacuation or the rescue in any way. The confusion caused by a 6-hour evacuation resulted in 32 deaths and trauma for the rest. Vanity Fair has an excellent article on the event.
“We’ve abandoned ship,” Schettino told him.
De Falco was startled. “You’ve abandoned ship?” he asked.
Schettino, no doubt sensing De Falco’s dismay, said, “I did not abandon the ship … we were thrown into the water.”
When De Falco put down the phone, he stared at the officers beside him in amazement. This violated every tenet of maritime tradition, not to mention Italian law. “The captain had abandoned ship with hundreds of people on board, people who trusted him,” says De Falco’s boss, Cosma Scaramella. “This is an extremely serious thing, not just because it’s a crime.” For a moment he struggles to find a word. “This,” he goes on, “is an infamy. To abandon women and children, it’s like a doctor who abandons his patients.”
|Costa Concordia nestled on a rock, site of cowardice, bravery, and death|
|Derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela|
Like the Dutch pilot who 'predicted' Germanwings crash in article about returning to a locked cockpit door weeks before disaster, saying, "I seriously sometimes wonder who’s sitting next to me in the cockpit. How can I be sure that I can trust him? Perhaps something terrible has just happened in his life and he’s unable to overcome it" I was also thinking about who I can trust with my life. There is a funny scene in Woody Allen's 1977 movie Annie Hall that I never forgot. It shows Allen, Christopher Walken and then Diane Keaton in a car after Walken's confession. It's 1:27 minutes long.
I was thinking all these things and discussing them yesterday, deciding to write about it. But Tim Challies beat me to it.
And I'm glad he did. He wrote a piece called The Way The World Works and he discusses the things I'd been pondering: putting ourselves in the hands of others for our safety and our lives, life is precious, the broken trust. Challies did a very good job - much better than I would have done of course - and I commend the piece to you. Here is a taste:
And it is not just our own life that we regard as precious, but all life. Just as we make decisions to protect our own lives, we make decisions to protect others’. We tighten our children’s seatbelts. We put the knives up high. We pay the salaries of police officers. We stop and help when we spot even a stranger in distress.
Life is the most precious thing. The world only works when we maintain this tacit agreement that life is precious, that I will do all I can to preserve both mine and yours, that you will do all you can to protect both yours and mine. Both civilization and civility stand or fall on this simple agreement.
The alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is cars swerving to meet oncoming traffic, bicycles drifting out of the bike lane, toddlers roaming at will, hospitals empty and unstaffed. The alternative might even be a pilot setting his aircraft so that it gradually coasts straight into the ground.Life is precious. We are made in His image. He formed us in the womb. God is intimately involved with us. Reckless, wanton abandonment of even the most basic precepts of our neighborly co-existence with one another, that we agree life is precious, is just so sad.
The world reacted with horror—justified horror—when they learned that Andreas Lubitz had deliberately crashed Germanwings flight 9525, taking his own life and the lives of the other 149 passengers and crew members. The reason for our shock is that he violated the agreement. He chose to take life instead of preserve life.
“You created every part of me; you knit me together in my mother‛s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother‛s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there – you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. Psalm 139:13-16