It was years ago that the first photographs of Pan Am's Clipper Maid of the Seas lying shattered in that Scottish meadow began flashing across television screens across the world. And it would mark the end of pleasant air travel for all of us.
It is my view that the lamentable, endlessly recurring cycle of atrocity and counter-atrocity that has been so characteristic of human history derives significantly from the turning to metaphysical illusion in the effort to evade the traumatizing impact of human finitude.
A tragedy like this brings us face-to-face with our existential vulnerabilities -- vulnerabilities to harm, death, and loss -- and the existential vulnerability of all those we love and, perhaps worst of all, the limitedness or our ability to protect them.
Is there an alternative to ideological illusion and the rhetoric of evil? Yes, there is. We must remember our common human vulnerabilities and bring them into a collective conversation within which our existential anxiety can be held and better borne.
Earthquakes, especially catastrophic ones, shake our confidence in the very ground we stand on and confront us with the groundlessness of our existence, wherein no certainty, safety, or continuity of being can be assured.
"There is so much to tell, but I hope that this small sample will convey the feelings and needs of the Haitians. In many ways, I feel that our trip was such a small contribution that it barely has meaning."