Ill-Fated

“Palm 90, how do you read?” That was the question the control tower at National Airport in Washington, D.C. asked on the afternoon of January 13, 1982. It would soon be apparent that Palm 90 had crashed. Palm 90 was the call sign for an Air Florida flight bound for Fort Lauderdale. Palm 90’s take off had been delayed because of a driving snow storm. The plane was de-iced during the delay, but falling temperatures and epic snow fall apparently caused the wings of the plane to ice over again. Palm 90 never achieved enough altitude on take-off to clear the 14th Street Bridge across the Potomac River located a short distance from the end of the runway. Cars on the bridge were struck and four people were killed as they sat in traffic simply trying to get home. The flight crashed into the Potomac and sank through the ice. There were heroic bystanders that helped save four of those who had survived the crash.

The early release of Federal workers to escape the 1982 storm had filled the 14th Street Bridge full of cars. Emergency vehicles were hampered by the weather conditions and the traffic on the bridge. In short, it was about as bad as it can get. Some might call the flight of Palm 90 “ill-fated”. As humans we search to find reasons for why things happen. Pilot error and the weather were advanced as potential reasons for the crash. Often though tragedies such as the crash of Palm 90 or the Titanic are referred to as ill-fated. What does it mean to be ill-fated? Does it presuppose that one who is involved in the event is the victim of bad luck or part of some other predestined event mapped out in advance by God? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary refers to it as “having or destined to a hapless fate.” That definition doesn’t answer the question of “why” or “how” those who died happened to be there. When one steps into the cabin of an airplane there is always the knowledge that it may crash, even if the chances are small. A person driving home on the 14th Street Bridge hit by a crashing airplane must be an event as unlikely to occur as one can imagine. Yet, there it is–it happened, but why? Stuff does happen, but that old phrase doesn’t explain why.  The chances of being killed by a falling airplane must be longer than winning the Power Ball Lottery. People do win the lottery. People do die because of crashing airplanes.

Frozen Potomac River

Frozen Potomac River

 

 

I hadn’t thought about this crash for awhile. This week I flew into National and the Potomac was iced over. It jogged my memory as we flew a few hundred feet above the 14th Street Bridge and the icy Potomac. Unlike Palm 90, my flight was not ill-fated. I would love to hear your thoughts about whether this is random luck or part of some bigger plan.

HISTORY AND CHEATING FATE

Interesting concept–cheating your fate. Seems like it would defeat the whole purpose of the system if one could actually “cheat” their fate. In my mind its like being a “little bit pregnant”. Either it was predestined and it happens or its not predestined. I’ve seen arguments and there are places in the Bible that indicate that one thing was predestined and God changed his/her mind. Could cheating your fate happen when God changes the predestined plan? There is an old proverb that presents the question in a different light. “If you were destined to hang, you’ll never drown.” I suppose the idea is that being saved from one disaster doesn’t mean you should gloat because there may be another fate awaiting you that you wouldn’t have picked if you would have had a choice. Free will might have let you choose your own path that avoids drowning or hanging.Of course this is all dependent on whether you buy the concept of predestination.

History is full of turning points that defy easy explanation. The incredibly powerful storm  that descended on Washington, D.C. in August of  1814 devastated the British Army’s plan to destroy the new U.S. Capitol. The rains put out fires set by the British to burn the city and it killed British soldiers who were crushed when building collapsed on them. Amazingly the British, whose vastly superior forces were ready to regain control of the  U.S. packed up and went home after the storm. It is reported that on the way out of town a British Admiral asked a woman resident of D.C.   ” Great God, Madam, is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?!”She responded, “No, sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city.”

So there you have it. The Bible is full of stories of divine intervention by a God that chooses sides. If this statement is true one of the following seems to be true. (1) God preordained the storm to save his “elected”. (2) God changed his/her mind about the British and the citizens of the U.S. “cheated their fate” or (3) it was a lucky coincidence. I’m just saying. I am saving. The whole issue of free-will is coming in another post, but what do you think?

DESTINED TO WRITE

If you are reading this then you’re on my website www.williamddarling.com. If you were interested enough to read the About Me (hyperlink to About Me) you have seen that I was bold enough to opine that “I was born to write novels.” Since I only recently published my first novel, Morgan’s Point, (hyperlink to kindle site) you might think me a bit presumptuous. I have never been accused of being a shrinking violet, but even I was startled when I first typed those words. 
Have you lived your whole life doing something that you really love (or maybe hate), and a little voice keeps telling you to change your life and won’t quit nagging?  We all have secret passions that we stuff down for fear of failure or not having enough to eat. If you aren’t Tolstoy or John Grisham it takes some guts to write “I was born to write”. I aspire to be like them. How did I get that way? What drove me to leave my day job behind? My posts have a common theme—predestination or the lack thereof.  I keep asking myself, how did I get here? Like the beer guy, I don’t always write about predestination, but when I do it’s on this website. 
I’ll leave you this thought. If that loud mouth on your back keeps telling you to change the course of your life—stop and listen—it may be destiny calling. Don’t hang up on a call from destiny without saying hello. At least you might shut that little loud mouth up and get him off your back.

LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL?

Poor money, it’s always the fall guy for the evils committed by man. Money is but a substitute for the material things that a society values. Would it be more accurate to blame greed? In some instances (say you are dying and need a transplant) the need for money means the difference between life and death. Is one evil for stealing to survive? At least, if the dying thief is caught he will be incarcerated and our society will provide the transplant. 
Gordon Gecko said “Greed is good!” in the movie Wall Street. I suppose greed could have certain benefits. If greed causes us to work hard to earn an honest living and our success causes the boats of others to rise, then that kind of greed is good, at least for the economy. If it is the type of greed that fuels a scheme like the home mortgage scandal, then greed is not good. Some might argue that greed is never good. What if you were predestined to be greedy? I’m just asking. Two cases come to mind. The Bible says that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (done for 30 pieces of silver) and Pharaoh’s captivity of the captive Jews in Egypt were orchestrated by God to carry out his plan. If that’s the case then you can understand why each of them might say a la Bill Clinton, “What’d I do?”