The Black Box of the Human Heart: Reflections on Missing Flight MH370

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I ask myself, how does a sleek, technologically sophisticated airliner equipped with all the latest fallback security devices vanish suddenly without a trace?  After a week of wasted mass resources and time, the Malaysian government has finally owned up to a willful human act on the part of someone knowledgeable about aircraft, perhaps one of the Boeing craft’s two pilots.

The anomaly is that no terrorist entity has claimed responsibility.  Suicide may loom as the cause and it has precedent in two previous incidents.  What we do know is that someone turned off the transponder which signals the craft’s location to radar just an hour into flight.

Additionally,  a portion of the Boeing’s 777 Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was turned off.  The transmitting portion of the ACARS, however, still functioned.  Most pilots wouldn’t know how to turn it off, as it requires access to the electronic bay below the cockpit.  Thus the plane continued to transmit blips picked up by Inmarsit satellite for several hours.  Though not conveying data, these blips can assist in identifying the flight’s general region.

We know, too, that someone was guiding the plane, deliberately flying an alternate aerial pathway, initially traceable by Malaysian military.

From the very beginning (March 8), the mystery of Flight MH370’s disappearance has been compounded by confusion, with a plethora of false sightings, contrary statements, and denials. Unfortunately, other nations with more sophisticated technology such as the United States were denied access to the raw data from the outset, perhaps due to national pride.

It’s also painful to learn that airport security in Kuala Lumpur didn’t bother to check Interpol’s database listing of missing passports.  Subsequently, we learned of two passengers on the flight with stolen passports.  Though seemingly unconnected with the flight’s demise, their boarding of the Malaysia Airlines fight is disconcerting.  I would think twice about booking a flight with this airline, even if they gave me a gratis ticket.  This makes me curious about how the Airline is faring.  Its legal problems are surely just beginning.

We all feel for the families involved–the confusion, the scuttled hopes, the Airline’s reported insensitivity in conveying prompt and frequent updates.  And then, the terrible final moments of the passengers.  Were they conscious or did the pilot ultimately provoke decompression by flying higher after setting a course on automatic pilot for the Indian Ocean known for its huge depths?  This would explain the absence of cell phone messages.  Given this challenge and the sheer vastness of the area being searched, I doubt we’ll ever find the plane’s impact scene and the black box unraveling this flight’s mystery.

The horror of a mind that can work such evil is something I’ve never been able to bend my mind around, though history witnesses to its frequent occurrence.  For all our seeming sophistication, Conrad and Stevenson had it right when they wrote of “the heart of darkness” and the Dr. Jekyll and Hyde complex lurking within Man.  Jung called it the Shadow;  Freud, the Id, those subterranean depths of self-regarding human consciousness that on occasion explode into visibility with a lava of cruelty and hate.

–rj

About RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.
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