Friday, February 15, 2013

A Meteorite Hits Russia and the Wise Men get a GPS

A meteorite hit Russia. I was informed of this off-handedly by a sophomore as he entered English class today.

 “Did you hear about it?” he asked.

I shook my head. Nope, hadn’t heard of it. But to be fair, even at 9:30, I’m still trying to up my caffeine in-take to shake myself clear of my morning stupor. I’m usually good by 10:00. (Yes, that’s 10:00 AM. I can hear my husband snickering in the background because he mocks my non-morning-person-ness constantly. Whatever. We all have short-comings. Let’s talk about the bathroom renovation, shall we? No? Okay, then let’s move on.)

So once class ended, I googled “Russia Meteorite” and found this picture:

So is it the end of the world? The Mayan debacle is still a little too fresh to start whipping out predictions, but there’s another meteor that is supposed to be a near-miss today, as well. The closest call the earth has had in, like, 2000 years. Though I’m not sure how they can gauge that since satellites did not exist in Biblical times—if they did that would put a whole new spin on the Wise Men following a star.

“No need for that anomalous star, Lord,” said Wise Man #1. “I’ll find your Son, no problem. I’ve got my GPS. Okay, Bethlehem. Found it. Saddle up your camels and head west, fellas!” (Gotta say, I like the original story better.)

While it is a bit horrifying (to me, at least) to see something from outer space smashing into the earth, I was even more shocked by the nonchalance of the 10th grader who informed me of the event. Over 1,000 people had to seek medical attention from the impact. And a 10th grader half-way across the world speaks of it as though it was the latest episode of “CSI: SVU” (or some other show high schoolers watch.)

And I think that just might be the problem. News blurs in with the rest of entertainment. And we forget that these are real people, experiencing real fear, facing real danger. Because the “realness” is so easy to forget, those of us unaffected then feel the freedom to:
  •  Point fingers--I bet George W. knew about this meteorite when he was in office and did nothing about that, too.
  • Criticize--If Obama knew what he was doing he’d be building up NASA so that we could expand our awareness and protect ourselves from this type of thing.
  • Laugh--Where’s oil-driller-turned-astronaut Bruce Willis when we need him?!

It’s just like the kid that falls down the stairs in front of the entire class. Everyone freezes for a moment. Then you have the kids who immediately start to laugh (gotta say, it’s tempting). You have those with righteous indignation pointing fingers at those around the kid who may or may not have tripped, pushed, shoved, and caused the fall. You have those clucking their tongues at the fallen kid as if he should have known better than to fall in the first place.

I want to be the person who first asks the fallen comrade:

“Are you hurt?”

“No. Just my pride.”

“Good.” I say, helping him to his feet. “Is it okay to laugh?”

You know I like a good laugh. And there are times when tongue-clucking and finger-pointing may be appropriate. But, please please please, let’s never lose sight of the humanity behind it all. 

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  1. I appreciate your sentiment. Compassion really is key. That's a hard message to get through the hormones of high school, and for some reason, the cynicism of many adults.

    1. That's why we have to keep writing, Amy! Someone's gotta defy the cynics and the hormonally-driven ;)

  2. I agree with you, Anna. Parents have a hard job trying to keep their kids compassionate in the desensitized world we live in. Very distressing. I have seen the meteroite crater near Winslow Arizona and it left an extremely big pock mark on the face of the earth. I don't want one crashing anywhere nearby, I can tell you.

    1. Yes, a scary business, Danni! For a moment while teaching I felt like Chicken Little thinking the sky is falling. Then I thought I was being silly. Then I reminded myself, no, the sky IS falling. And then I went back to teaching because 10th graders are a squirrely bunch and I'd have to worry about the falling sky later. Definitely a reminder of how little we can actually control in our universe.

  3. I agree with you and Amy. Compassion is key. But sensitivity is as well - I feel that with a 24/hour news cycle and constant media stimulation, it's easily to become desensitized to the events and tragedies of the world.

    But, perhaps most of all in our part of the world, your hubs needs to show some compassion and finish the bathroom renovation.

    1. I'm working on him, Kate! I can feel a change in the wind. (And we should get our tax return soon, so he'll have the cash to get some part for some mechanism needed so he can finish.) On the upside, I got a new shower curtain liner and chucked out the old mildewy one. My work is done.

  4. i went the whole day and didn't even know about the meteorite. we watched it on the evening news and you could see the terror on the faces of those people. the confusion and panic made all our hearts race for a few moments. i can't imagine what it must feel like to realize the sky is falling.


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