Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Some Might Say

I don't know if things like "miracles" exist. There are certain things in this world that I think people believe in to give themselves comfort. Miracles, traditional views of a god, religion, fate, astrology, etc. are just a few examples. I happen to have been studying astrology for 15 years and I think religions and their origins are fascinating. This doesn't mean, however, that I believe in them and cannot criticize certain facets of these subjects.

(mĭr'ə-kəl) Pronunciation Key
  1. An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God: "Miracles are spontaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves" (Katherine Anne Porter).
  2. One that excites admiring awe. See Synonyms at wonder.
  3. A miracle play.
First it appears that in order to believe in miracles you have to believe in "God" (and by this I mean the Judeo Christian version, and perhaps this extends to the Muslim Allah as well). If you don't believe in a god defined by one of the modern day religions then perhaps you believe in a being of your own design or one of the more rudimentary mythological gods. If you don't believe in a god of some design then you must believe in the supernatural. Many people say god, that Jesus dude, and others are supernatural beings so if you don't believe in god but you believe in ghosts and souls that walk the earth that you are contradicting yourself. (That's a topic for another day).

Or, a miracle could simply be something or someone that induces awe. In the case of the article below, I believe two men catching an 18-month old falling three stories without inducing any injuries is fairly lucky. However, I don't think they are "heroes" or that the act is a "miracle".

(hîr'ō) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. he·roes
  1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
  2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war.
  3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.
  4. The principal male character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
  5. Chiefly New York City See submarine. See Regional Note at submarine.

I always thought of a hero as someone who risked his or her life to save someone else's. Or, someone who risks their quality of life, their fame, material possessions, or even their dignity in the name of something they deem greater than themselves.

I think these guys were pretty smart and selfless, and obviously had a bit of compassion in their bodies, but they risked very little. If they had caught or hadn't caught the baby, the brunt of the horror would have been directed at the father of the child. If they tried to catch and failed, they may have felt a terrible guilt for a while and it certainly wouldn't fade from their memories in their lifetime, but all in all I would not call these people "heroes" and I don't think the city owes them a debt of gratitude (how does saving a toddler's life in any way support or aid the city)?

The act was not a miracle - we saw how the chid fell, we saw how they were caught. Now if you said to me that the child stopped just a foot off the ground, levitated for a moment, made itself upright, and then floated to its feet safe and sound, I would break out in a chorus of Hallelujahs and would in no way doubt the miraculous nature of the event. What it really comes down to is a lot of luck and the fact that the men had a touch of brains and selflessness. I don't think that makes what they did any less cool or commendable - I just don't like to see things blown out of proportion.

The guys rock, the father owes them a damn near lifetime of gratitude, and the kid should meet them some day when she gets older, maybe have a little picture of them so she can tell the story to her friends and family. That's the long and short of it. And those of you that insist god was involved - well it wasn't very nice of him to make that baby fall out of the window in the first place, was it?


  1. *laughing* Devil's Advocate...I agree with it being the 'Right' thing to do, at the 'Right' moment. Miraculous? I guess it depends on your personal definition of the word. I don't believe in coincidence, so 'miracle' is as good a definition as anything. What is most important in the entire story (IMHO) is that the baby is fine. Amen n Amen.

  2. I agree. Everyone lives happily ever after (until someone falls out the window again) :P

  3. Ha. Being a literary pedant, I feel the same, but am forced to recognise the fact that words change their use in time.

    I remember grumbling about the ‘miracle’ of the plane that landed without fatalities in the Hudson River, and how the pilot was a ‘hero’. Though I would have said that the pilot was doing what he had been trained to do in reacting to an emergency, and doing it with commendable competence, I wouldn’t have used the word ‘hero’ myself, any more than I would have said that the successful landing was a ‘miracle’. However, as I say, words do change, and I must bow to that.

    And the media of course have always had their own way of using words.