13 September 2008

9/11, 9/12, and other man-made disasters

I'm not big on going out of my way to observe 9/11 - of course we can't forget, and I'm especially in awe of the many to acted with selfless bravery on that day, and I feel pain for the loss of the families. But I've been so depressed by the political uses that have been made of that event, it make me want to ignore it. Then little things creep into my consciousness....

Like yesterday, when two trains collided in Los Angeles and at least 25 people died. It's hard to imagine the violent moment that occurred when two trains, both going about 40 miles per hour, ran into each other head on. Trains just aren't supposed to do that.

I heard today that one of engineers may have sent a text message to a friend a minute before the crash. We'll probably never know for sure if that was the reason he ran through a red signal, but I hope it will be additional motivation for me to keep my hands off my iPhone while I'm driving. I can only imagine how I'd feel if I killed someone in my car because I was reading a text or an email - shame on me for ever doing it!

And the abstraction of a horrific event like 9/11 - or the much smaller but no less violent deaths in the train accident on 9/12 - is brought home when you're reminded that behind the numbers are real people and real families. I was very moved by Phil McKinney's blog post about the Falkenberg family who died on the jet that plowed into the Pentagon. It sounds like the new memorial there - a bench for each person who died - is somber, appropriate, and humane.

I shouldn't need reminders like this that life is precious, but somehow I do. We never know what the next moment might bring, so we've got to do the best with the one's we're given. There are thousands of little tragedies every hour, and if it's your family it's just as important as a big one. And if it's you, you may never know...

(Photo my Mr. "O", http://flickr.com/photos/mr_o/, used under Creative Commons license.)


Armaiti said...

Yeah, not to mention the utter creepiness of those dates so close. . . hello, significance.

Michael Berman said...

I believe significance is where you find it.

spleeness said...

I think about this all the time, how people are suddenly swept from life leaving huge overwhelming gaps in the lives of those they've left behind.

Thanks for the reminder about how precious life is. I am trying to get better about living each day more fully. Reminds me of this quote:

"If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?" ~Stephen Levine