Yesterday I spent some time thinking about anger, about irrational actions and reactions – some of my own, some of a friend’s angst, some of strangers too. Some in the news.
Woven into this ongoing conundrum of wondering if we all knee-jerk the way I sometimes do – if it’s a common thing, something fixable, and then another news report comes in about who has acted or reacted, of whoever is the latest to chime in with an opinion on the consequences of someone’s knee-jerk reaction …
Yes, I’m writing about a plane being shot down by an Iranian missile – part of Iran’s reaction to American forces assassinating one of their leaders at the order of Donald Trump. President Trump has done many things I dislike, a lot of things easily attributed to knee-jerk reactions, jerk reactions, and plain ridiculous non-leader-like behavior. Like Newton’s laws have taught, for each action, there is often an opposite and equally potent reaction.
The First World War started that way, attributable to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand … and million died. I don’t have a crystal ball to know if Trump’s actions are starting a war, or as he boasts, preventing one. What I do know is that a planeload of innocent people – many of them Canadians, all of them innocent fare-paying passengers taking a flight – are dead. Mr. Trump owns responsibility, but he doesn’t take responsibility, and there is no evidence he ever has – so don’t hold your breath.
The world was the way it was a few days ago.
And now it is different.
Global warming and climate change, governments doing stupid things, people stepping-in-it by opening their mouths or hitting send too soon – and fires in Australia, and winter cold in Calgary – same as usual, nothing much has changed today.
But the world is different, forever changed for 176 people and their families, and the guy who started the chain reaction is quoted as saying, of the missile, “it might have been a mistake.” The world might return to normal for many of us, or events might unfold to impact far more than those families.
I’ve become old and cranky, but more than that, I’m becoming an old cranky pacifist. I am horrified by many things, but few come close to the rage I feel when precious lives are squandered and wasted – but at least with the living, help can be given. To those on that flight, their enormous value was extinguished – not by accident, but as a by-product of the foolish act of a foolish man. Most sadly, that foolish man, elected the most powerful post in any land, lives above the laws he was elected to respect and enforce. His country has not lost its way, not yet, but he certainly has. And the families of those who died are entitled to rage, to compensation, to an apology – but nothing can redress the wrong they’ve been dealt, because nothing can be reversed or undone.
The world is never the same day-to-day, but for most of us in most countries, one day is mostly like the last one, pretty much the same as the next one. Change happens, but slowly. Often so slowly, we don’t realize that anything is changing, but it is. That’s why we don’t notice our weight gain or hair loss the way someone who hasn’t seen us in a while would notice.
We might all – on our best days, dream the impossible dream and want to fight the unbeatable foe, but we cannot undo what has been done. Not a plane crash, not systemic abuses of power, or denigration of peoples. Nothing is reversible, and nothing is without consequence.