I’ve written about Murphy’s Law several times over the years. In view of the recent Amtrak derailment along the Wilmington-Philadelphia-New York railway route, perhaps a reintroduction is in order.
The greatest early warning system available to humanity is HISTORY, but virtually NO ONE pays attention to it; which is why it often repeats itself. And with each subsequent repetition, the cost becomes more staggering.
Murphy’s Law, along with all of its sub-laws, commentaries, and corollaries, has been providing us humans with boatloads of rib-tickling truisms for decades to say to the least.
Murphy said; “If anything can go wrong, it will.” To which O’Toole added his commentary; “Murphy was an optimist.”
But, when it comes to happenstance in this world, we can’t legitimately blame anything on Mr. Murphy. He’s never been the cause; he’s just been an observer.
Humans are the only life forms capable of self-awareness, and we’re the only ones capable of rationalizing our behavior. But we’ve also developed colossal egos with a seemingly limitless degree of stupidity to shield us from recognizing it.
Murphy has been at the scenes of every disaster known to humanity. He was aboard the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986 when it exploded just 73 seconds after liftoff. He was the only survivor.
He was also aboard Columbia on February 1, 2003 when it disintegrated in flames upon re-entry, just about 16 minutes from its scheduled landing. Again, Mr. Murphy was the only survivor.
On May 25, 1979, Murphy, though not on the official manifest, was on board American Airlines Flight 191 out of O’Hare International in Chicago.
That flight crashed on takeoff after losing an engine. And, as always, not only was he there, he walked away unscathed. As well, he was a stowaway aboard the Titanic and he was present during the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.
Though cats have—according to myth—nine lives, this feat is nothing compared to the power of Mr. Murphy! As long as humans exist on this planet, Mr. Murphy will live in infamy, assured of no chance of injury, let alone death.
Between December 12, 1952 and September 30, 1999, the world witnessed twenty-one nuclear disasters. Six of them occurred in the United States, two of which happened in Tennessee.
Six others happened in the former Soviet Union; two of which practically destroyed Chernobyl.
Britain, Canada, Germany, and Japan all contributed as well. And, yes, Mr. Murphy was there for all of them, and he walked away without as much as a scratch.
He was in New York City on 9/11/2001. If not lurking inside the Twin Towers, he was in the vicinity. As well, he was present throughout this country’s financial meltdown and its ensuing consequences.
And, he was a constant witness throughout a nonstop blitz of Jared Lee Loughner’s behavioral warning signs that constantly bellowed for all to hear; “I’m nuts!”
Rest assured; he was in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011 when Mr. Loughner proved it by shooting nineteen people, six of them fatally, in a hail of automatic gunfire.
But, as always, Mr. Murphy slipped away, undetected and unscathed, while the rest of the world stood in utter shock and dismay searching for people to blame.
The human race is an incredible species. Yes, we’ve spawned some atrociously horrible members, but on average we’ve done far more good than evil.
But we’re also impatient, careless, and capable of appalling oversights that border on absolute stupidity.
Mostly, no one acts with anticipated malice. It’s a question of odds. It simply amounts to a play against the Law of Averages (regression to the mean).
But, unfortunately, when that law gets even—and it ALWAYS does—it usually does so with a horrible tally of human suffering, loss of life, and a dreadful financial cost.
We humans have always waged a constant battle against three of our most insidious archenemies: EGO, ARROGANCE, and STUPIDITY. And the three of them are interrelated.
Whenever Mr. Ego engages in a love affair with Ms. Arrogance, the resultant love child is a dumb-ass named Stupidity.
And, since there seems to be no shortage of Mr. Egos and Ms. Arrogances, the stream of Stupidities tends to be endless. So, our continued and ill-advised bets against the Law of Averages are not going to diminish.
Let’s all keep this in mind the next time we hear that Islamic terrorists do not have nuclear weapons; or, the next time we read a statement out of Washington, DC that Iran is years from offensive nuclear capability; or, that some vaccine is “absolutely” safe; or, that this country is too big to fail; or, that the Keystone Pipeline proposed to be built over the Ogallala Aquifer is failsafe.
OOPS has always been an integral component of the human condition; so it pays to be cautious because, like it or not, we’re quite capable of breaking something that we won’t be able to fix.
And, as always, Mr. Murphy will be an observer!