Tuesday, April 8, 2014

MH370: An International Tragedy

I'm sure most of my readers, especially those in Malaysia, have heard of the MH370 incident, which has been discussed and remembered via radio, television, billboards, newspapers, posters, conversation, and all other forms of communication in Malaysia. For those who are not familiar with the disaster, on March 8, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur on its journey to Beijing; however, soon after its departure, communication with the airplane was lost, and by the time the waking hours of the morning came around, the disappearance of the plane had been disclosed to the public. Since that day, a coalition of countries has searched for the missing plane in various parts of the oceans and seas surrounding Malaysia. On March 24, based on satellite information and other forms of data, the government of Malaysia and Malaysian Airlines concluded that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, with no survivors. The international team has since turned to the Indian Ocean to find the plane and investigate its crash.

As a calamity of this magnitude was both unprecedented and unexpected, the loss of MH370 was an immense blow to the friends and families of those within the plane. Days and weeks of mourning went on as millions worldwide grieved at the situation at hand and their inability to do anything about it. In Malaysia, daily reports and the release of new evidence and information did little to soothe the hearts and minds of those affected, and relatives and companions of those lost were forced to go about their daily lives unsure of their loved ones' fates. The state of the country was melancholy and unfortunate. When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak sadly announced that the government had gathered that MH370 had gone down in the Indian Ocean and that none of the individuals on board the aircraft had survived, all those who had been agonizingly waiting for an official answer had their hearts broken as they listened to the all too possible explanation for the disappearance of their close relatives and friends.

It has now been a full month since the plane's disappearance. 30 days. It's hard to register that it's been so long since the incident. Although I am not personally connected to anyone on the plane, I do feel sorrow and grieve for the passengers and crew of MH370. I've tried to empathize with the families of the victims and understand their suffering and loss, and I've started to see just how tough they are. To face a death in the family is extremely difficult, but to go through that process without knowing for sure what happened to the victim is an immense hardship. However, these poor individuals are not alone; radio stations, television networks, Internet websites, and the rest of the Malaysian media have stepped up and helped the families cope with their losses. Listening to Hitz FM's poignant songs and prayers of remembrance for the victims of MH370 and reading the sincere and heart-warming comments left for families and friends of the passengers and crew on websites, newspapers, and posters of remembrance have genuinely changed my perception of tragedy and loss. Seeing the citizens of my wonderful host country have to go through such a traumatic and terrible event is saddening, but their ability to bond and get through this event together is truly inspiring.

A remembrance poster in Johor Bahru with thousands of messages and prayers written on it

For all those families and friends affected by the MH370 disaster, I want to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that your memories of your loved ones stay strong and that you also remain strong. As in the past few weeks, let us, the people around you, help you cope with the tragedy in your lives. If you stay strong and remember the positive memories of your family members or friends, you will get through this.

The catastrophe of MH370 will not be forgotten. It cannot and should not be forgotten. People will remember March 8 as a day of mourning and remembrance. No matter what happens, we the citizens of the entire world should not forget this date, as this accident does not pertain to only Malaysia or other countries whose citizens were on the plane; it is relevant to each and every one of us, as we are all human beings. Just as we keep in the annals of our memories the dates of other tragedies, we should always be able to look back upon this date and commemorate the lives of those on board MH370 because as long as we have them in our memories, they will never be completely gone.

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