Accidents that attract wide, in this case global, attention tend to force people like me to think one more time about life and death.
While no one I know was on flight ET 302 that crashed outside Addis Ababa last weekend on its way to Nairobi, killing all 157 on board, the thought chills. Sudden death chills for real.
Also, I had flown Ethiopian a month earlier and the equipment, to use the industry lingo, was the same model — Boeing 737 Max 8.
Flying is generally a safe undertaking, until it is not.
There is always that feeling that you are much more helpless as a passenger aboard an aircraft than as a passenger in a car, however rickety and despite all evidence to the contrary. It must be the idea of dropping out of the sky just like that. When on the ground in a car, it is as if there is a lot you can do to affect your fate.
The suddenness, or the potential of accidents, elicits some interesting reflections. What will happen to one’s family, especially if one is a parent of young children? Others simply do not want to be denied the chance (or right) to live into old age to see the world in 20 or 30 or 40 years. Yet, like it has been observed, if life happens, death happens. And it does at the time of its own wise choosing.
If death, by whatever means, is not in our full control, we should possibly then focus on stuff we can control. How about you start by writing that last will and testament? Wills don’t solve everything because wills get forged and even genuine ones get challenged, but dying intestate (without leaving a will) is worse.
That said, the easier way to not fear death by plane or car or train or boat or sickness is to live a decent life. Even if you are not Christian, going by the Ten Commandments helps. Even easier, and even if you are not a Catholic, beware of the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, sloth (laziness). Avoid those ones to the greatest extent possible.
When you are proud, probably you are one of those who look down on people you think are lesser mortals because they do menial jobs or earn less or earn nothing and are homeless. Maybe you are one of those who love to pull rank fwaa. To what end?
Envious? Why not learn something from your target of envy to make yourself a more successful person?
Lust? That one! No comment.
That anger that allows you to kill someone in the heat of rage may lead you to the executioner’s chair. Beautiful thing is that you can learn how to manage your anger. Do it.
Gluttony and greed — corruption is fuelled by these and more. Look around you, especially at people in your government. They never get enough.
What is it that some diplomat said colourfully in Nairobi in denunciation of Kenyan corruption in the early Kibaki years? British High Commissioner Edward Clay, who served in Uganda and would later reprise the role across the border in Kenya, let loose in a 2004 speech to a group of UK businessmen: “They [Kenyan officials] may expect we shall not see, or notice, or will forgive them a bit of gluttony because they profess to like Oxfam lunches. But they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes …”
Raw anger followed from the Kenyan ruling and eating elite. But you may just as well replace Kenya with any country of your choice on our continent.
Anyways, because most of the gluttonous and greedy believe in some religious something, their deity is watching.
Sloth is laziness. Some dose of laziness may be okay, but there is no reason for a physically and mentally able-bodied person to be a full time loafer.
Basically, we are being taught to acknowledge our bad impulses and to fight them. Or else hell is real.
All said, nothing questions one’s faith in everything and anything to the core than losing several family members in a few seconds. A clip on social media showed a Kenyan man mourning the death in the Ethiopian Airlines crash of his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren. They were returning home from Canada.
The New York Times fleshed out the story, reporting that one of Mr John Quindos’ grandchildren was a “granddaughter, Ruby, born nine months earlier in Canada” and whom the old man was looking forward to meeting for the first time.
In the video clip, Mr Quindos says the day he will come face-to-face with God, he will ask the Almighty why he prematurely separated him from family members.
The aircraft are grounded worldwide. Life continues. People are flying as of this moment on other models of aeroplanes. But what do you tell Mzee Quindos? What does his God tell him?
Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.