When you can’t find the needle in the haystack

Should mysteries end without resolution?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. April 8, 2014

It has been one of the biggest mysteries of our generation: the TV show-like disappearance of Malaysian Airline’s MH370. After roughly a month of searching, speculation, and outrage, the airliner carrying 239 people on board is still lost. Although the search team consisting of 25 countries has narrowed the area of disappearance to somewhere between Kazakhstan and the South Indian Ocean, the searchers have nothing to show for it. So, I must ask: can we move on without closure?

The history books are full of unsolved mysteries: from serial murders to paranormal activities to geographical phenomena such as the Bermuda Triangle. I’m aware that giving up on MH370 might not be an option—not with so much tension built, and not with such a tantalizing storyline following it. Perhaps it might even be found by the time you’re reading this.

Regardless, once the initial shock of the tragedy has dissipated, I think we can all appreciate the suspense of a good mystery. But while we, the distant and detached, continue living our lives and checking in occasionally, the family members, the search teams, and the people affiliated with the lost airliner are living in the aftermath of (pardon my language) a shit storm.

“Never give up hope” is a common saying when challenges seem insurmountable. But then again, we also say, “Let’s cut our losses.” There is no timeline at the moment for the search, but I believe one needs to be implemented soon. The longer we keep searching with no results, the harder it’ll become to give up. Like gambling, we’ll have placed too much on the line to walk away. When all we’re playing for is less than breaking even, I can’t help but feel that regardless of finding the airliner or not, the sensation will still be the same—it’ll be sorrow.

We must continue with our own lives, and not let the loss diminish our happiness. The world is full of inexplicable mysteries. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do we work so hard for nothing? What is the meaning of life? These are all questions without answers that we live with every day. Although it might bum us out every now and then, we still wake up in the morning, put on clothes, and face the cruel reality. I’m sorry to say, but “What happened to MH370?” might be another one of those questions to keep us up at night.

It’s human nature to seek resolution. Discovery is a great triumph and it can define a generation, but unsolved mysteries are not defeats; they are proof that life on Earth is more than problems and solutions. Life is full of wonders, conundrums that keep us guessing and imagining. If we consider ourselves gamblers in a celestial casino called Earth, we must also remember that we are playing by house rules. Sometimes we need to know when to fold.

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