Processing Another Malaysia Airlines Tragedy

July 21, 2014 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

“Following are images from the scene – warning: GRAPHIC.”[1]

This is the caption that greeted me as I was reading through headlines about the crash of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17, shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying over Ukraine.  The crash scene is gut-wrenchingly sad – dozens of pictures of smoldering wreckage, many of these with portions blurred out to cover up the gruesome sights of human remains.  It’s no surprise, then, that before I scrolled through images from the scene posted by Business Insider, they included the above warning.

Regardless of whether this missile strike was an accidental shooting down of an airliner that was thought to be a military transport jet or an intentional targeting of civilians, the precipitating cause in this crisis, according to experts, is Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.  The New York Times editorial board posted an excellent opinion piece, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to put a stop to not only tragedies like these, but to end a war of his own making against Ukraine:

Growing casualties on the ground, a major escalation of American sanctions against Russia, a military plane shot down and now the appalling destruction of a Malaysian jetliner with 298 people on board, shot by a surface-to-air missile. The Ukrainian conflict has gone on far too long, and it has become far too dangerous.

There is one man who can stop it – President Vladimir Putin of Russia, by telling the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to end their insurgency and by stopping the flow of money and heavy weaponry to those groups. But for all his mollifying words and gestures, Mr. Putin has only continued to stoke the flames by failing to shut down those pipelines, failing to support a cease-fire and avoiding serious, internationally mediated negotiations.[2]

Mr. Putin is so obsessed with getting to Ukraine, it seems, that even the tragic loss of a civilian airliner is not too large a price to pay to pacify his Macbethian-style political and empire-building ambitions.  But the pictures from this airliner crash are rallying the world into sharp disagreement with the Russian president.  This must stop.

Of all the grueling pictures I have seen from this story, the one I posted at the beginning of this blog has perhaps touched my heart most deeply.  There was no warning caption of graphic content posted above this image, but there should have been.  For far more tragic than smoldering wreckage are the shattered lives of those who have lost loved ones.  A girl’s grief is far more explicit than a flaming fuselage.

My parents used to warn me, “Power corrupts.”  After following this story, I wish that was all power could do.  For whether from the halls of the Kremlin or from an open plane dotted by missiles, in this instance, power didn’t just corrupt.  It killed.  Is it any wonder that, as Christians, we rejoice in the promise that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18)?   After all, He seems to be the only one who knows how to use it – at least perfectly.  For He uses His power not to kill, but to make alive (cf. John 10:10).

May Jesus’ perfect use of power be a comfort and consolation to those who have lost loved ones in this depraved display of aggression.

________________________

[1] Michael B. Kelley, “More Than 300 People Killed As Passenger Plane Shot Down In East Ukraine,” Business Insider (7.17.2014).

[2] The Editorial Board, “Vladimir Putin Can Stop This War,” The New York Times (7.17.2014).

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