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June 2012
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Evil behind flight tragedy unsettling

By SUSAN ESTRICH Creators Syndicate

I admit it. I have been obsessed with the plane. Most of the stories I've read offered no new information, but I read them anyway.

In a way, I suppose, it is a relief to know that the 777, long considered to be an extremely safe plane, was not brought down by some as yet unknown engineering defect.

But the fact that a human being, someone's son or brother or sister or mother, could get on a plane filled with innocent people, children and families, other people's loved ones, and decide to murder them all, in cold blood, in their seats, after seven hours in the air, consigning infants to a horrifying death, is almost beyond my comprehension.

It is evil incarnate.

How could a human being do such a thing?

This is not a new question. How could the 9/11 hijackers fly those planes into the World Trade Center buildings, where thousands of hardworking people, of every race and religion, were just doing their jobs? Al-Qaida. Osama bin Laden. Extremism and hate.

But no extremist group has claimed responsibility for these mass murders. If this was a political act, an act of terror, of crazed religious fervor, wouldn't someone have stood up to get the gruesome credit?

Maybe an explanation will emerge, but it's hard to imagine what it could possibly be, other than pure evil. And pure evil makes the world a very difficult place to live in.

Every day, we put our lives in the hands of others. We get on planes, trusting that the pilots will get us to our destination. We get on the freeway, trusting that the other drivers will stay in their lane. We cross the street, trusting that the crosswalk will protect us. How else could we live?

When I bring my fears to my psychiatrist, she tells me that it's the 12 percent problem. Most of the time, cause and effect are connected. The driver who crossed the median was drunk. The car that exploded was going 90-plus miles an hour on old tires. Tragic, absolutely. But understandable - and maybe because of that, at least a little avoidable. I drive defensively, slowly, avoiding the cars that are weaving on the freeway. I don't fly in small planes piloted by leisure pilots.

It's when cause and effect get disconnected that life can be so difficult to understand. Sometimes, the disconnect brings something good. A stroke of luck, we call it. More often, I think, the disconnect that we notice is the one between good people and bad endings.

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