George's Point of View

They say that time heals all wounds. And in a sense that may be true even for the families who lost loved ones in a plane crash, as long as we can interpret “healing” to mean that time eventually eases the sharpness of the pain of loss. And while that degree of healing is something that happens with people because our nervous systems are built for survival and allow us to adapt to even agonizing loss, the same thing is not true of mechanical equipment. While people bathed in time may get a little better, black boxes, radar components and computers that sit in salt water for a long period of time do not get better. In fact a scientist could present us a ratio of the time an item spends in ocean water : accessibility of evidence in terms of a diminishing ratio of accessibility. Or in other words, the longer evidence soaks in salt water, the more diminished our capacity to analyze it. Not that the same ratio applies across the board, of course–the frailty of paper in salt water is not the same as metal. And rice paper would differ from bond which would differ from cardstock. But in general, one can certainly say the longer evidence sits in the ocean, the more degraded that item will be. Ocean-time won’t heal evidence; but it sure helps damage or destroy it. So any evidence that we find now has been quietly degrading for almost 2 years.

So now we have the news that the fourth search for the black boxes has turned up something even more stupendous–they found identifiable remains. Great hosannas and praise by the submarine-load is being lavished by the audience of a world who is transfixed by the news. How amazing it is that on this fourth search for a needle in a haystack, after two years time and ocean currents, and countless storms and tides, with each passing moment making discovery that much less likely, after all this, a needle is found. But who is the world praising?

The searchers, certainly. The searchers have as they say these days “mad” skills. But let’s not praise the sponsors of the search. If not for the sponsors quitting, this discovery would have been found two years ago, or sometime between then and now. Because let us not forget the sponsors of the search, Air France and Airbus—both of whom could well afford to continue—have THREE TIMES quit. Quit the search, leaving key questions unanswered. Quit the search, the black boxes with their priceless knowledge, unfound. Quit the search, and left the families dissatisfied, and without closure.

Nevermind that this is such a timely find. Days after a judge takes the high road of French law and declares Airbus and Air France open to a criminal investigation for the crash of Air France 447, suddenly we have such a “feel good” media moment. Bodies found. Good job, searchers. Bad job Air France. Bad job Airbus.

If you had not given up, (and let’s face it, your reasons were purely financial,) what is lost would have been less dispersed by currents and time. And perhaps what is more important, the families would not be having their wounds reopened. Because these are not live family members found. This will not be true joy and true relief. This is just re-opening that sense of grief and pain, which is torturous after the anesthetic of two years. For those families whose lost are still lost. And for those families now able to receive their two lost loved ones, the grief and pain will be renewed. It will force them to relive the deaths all over again. Because even when they’re found, they’re still lost.

The question remains, why did you ever quit the search? This Pandora’s box of pain could have been closed and laid to rest by now, if you had not quit. Shame on you.

Originally posted by George Hatcher on Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 6:02 pm