MH370: A baffling mystery that leaves us searching for answers

Ever since MH370 from KL to Beijing disappeared from civilian radar coverage on March 8, people everywhere have been baffled by the loss of the plane.

Mar 20, 2014

By Anil Netto
Ever since MH370 from KL to Beijing disappeared from civilian radar coverage on March 8, people everywhere have been baffled by the loss of the plane.

Many have prayed for the safety of the 227 passengers and 12 crew and in that sense, it has brought Malaysians, indeed people everywhere, closer together in their collective outpouring of concern.

Often, we like to think we are in control over the situation. And advances in technology often give us an illusion of security and inter-connectedness – the feeling that there is always an 'app' to overcome a problem.

The loss of MH370, however, has shattered that illusion. We are thrown off balance when we realise that we are not always in control, those elected are not always on the ball, and that there are other forces at work behind the scenes that could have led to the crisis, whether it was a deliberate intervention or a plane malfunction.

The government's handling of the crisis, especially in the first week, did not help to quell the unease. The global media witnessed
at first-hand the contradictions, denials and delay in response, which many of us have long been accustomed to.

True, this was a crisis that has baffled experts. But the slow, bumbling response indicated that the country was simply not prepared to handle a crisis of this magnitude. Compounding the situation was that many of the country's top talents, who could have helped in the search and rescue, had emigrated often because their talents and contribution were not recognised or appreciated.

The lack of transparency and poor crisis management were at times glaring. The local media may be used to receiving information on critical issues in drids and drabs – and they may be used to this - but the foreign media were not impressed.

Those responsible for tracking the plane as it apparently turned back to cross over the peninsula heading towards the Straits of Malacca also came in for criticism for not being more alert and quick in their response. It meant that the nation lost the opportunity to intercept the plane and track its flight path to its final destination.

Something about this crisis touched the hearts of many. Maybe it was the sheer mystery of it all that left many searching for answers. After all, how could such an enormous jet plane with its passengers disappear just like that when our experts can even trace someone's DNA in the most unlikely places?

Many were distrustful or sceptical of official accounts – especially the relatives of the passengers who felt that not all information
was forthcoming. This helped to spawn a web of speculation and conspiracy theories, some of which even sounded plausible. But it was more than just playing amateur detective or internet sleuths.

As each day passed, the realisation gnawed on us that the chances of survival of the passengers grew slimmer. Last Sunday, Pope Francis invited the tens of thousands of pilgrims at St Peter's "to remember in prayer the passengers and crew of the Malaysia airline, and for their families. We are close to them in this difficult moment."

Indeed, the crisis has drawn many ordinary people together as many have prayed in their own way. This turn towards the spiritual may strengthen the bond among us that was so recently strained by the (deliberate?) ratcheting up of ethnic and religious tensions in the wake of the 'Allah' controversy.It showed that such major crises do not respect our self-imposed boundaries of ethnicity, religion and nationality.

While it is a positive sign that so many people have set aside divisions and come together in the wake of this crisis, maybe we should remember that this is only one of a string of major crises we are confronted with.

In recent times, we have been hit by multiple crises that require much spiritual strength if we are to overcome them: for instance, the dry spell and water shortages, the smog, rampant corruption, rising household indebtedness, income inequality, the worrying spate of crimes, poverty — and on the flip side, the stupendous accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few (the local and global elite).

Crises like this remind us of of the deeper mysteries of the universe and leave us grasping for answers, which are not always available in the material or worldly realm. Worldly and technological solutions alone are insufficient to overcome them. The sheer scale of these crises remind us that we need to tap into the spiritual as well.

This turning towards the spiritual will better equip us to understand the hidden forces at work and to overcome them. This is where we need to find not just spiritual solace to overcome discouragement and grief but also spiritual strength to rise and meet the challenges posed by the multiple crises that confront humanity.

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