My wife and I happened to listen to a press conference with the individuals involved in the “Amber Alert” case involving Hannah Anderson, a 16 year old girl from California who was recently kidnapped after her mother and brother were killed. In the press conference, the man who phoned the authorities (Mark John) gave a step-by-step account of how he and his wife noticed Hannah and her kidnapper in the backcountry, happened to see the Amber Alert on TV when they got home, and notified the authorities. Mark and his wife obviously did the right thing by working with law enforcement and the FBI, and Hannah’s life may have indeed been saved by their actions.
Most of the reporters asked basic questions regarding the sequence of events, what was going through your head, how does it feel, do you feel like a hero, and so forth. Of course, there was no shortage of superlatives and the broadcasters, of course, did their part to construct a Norman Rockwell painting with their descriptions of the simple, modest Idaho couple who are now in the media spotlight. Courage. America. The usual stuff.
However, a couple of reporters asked remarkably odd questions such as “Does it feel like a miracle?” and “Do you think it was meant to be?”
Given the fact that the same reporters were only seconds before lauding the Amber Alert system, law enforcement, the good folks from Idaho, and of course, the media, I found it odd that all of the fantastic contributions from so many man-made agencies using man-made technologies would be swept under the rug and the supernatural would be invoked. Everything about this situation was inherently NOT miraculous…rather, the nature of the event points to human ingenuity in our ability to organize and mobilize large numbers of people in a short span of time. More than this, it points to the fact that in the modern world we care enough about people we don’t even know (and probably never will) that we find it to be worthwhile to support and fund organizations that are there to help people like Hannah.
Mark’s wife (whose name I did not catch) went out of her way to deflect the adulation she and her husband were receiving to credit the Amber Alert system with Hannah’s rescue. A lesser woman would have likely credited a deity or someone sitting in a church praying.
Human beings are smart. And they are empathetic. They invent things and they organize. When the things they invent and the organizations they create do something good for the world, please don’t insult them by saying that the good they brought about was the result of a miracle. It didn’t have to happen. It wasn’t part of a master plan. The fact that it did happen is a testament to the fact that there are a lot of people out there who genuinely strive to help others and who use the capacity we have as humans to intelligently channel the resources we have towards this end.
Thank you to the Idaho couple. Thank you to law enforcement. Thank you (gulp) to the media. What you did was profound. It was remarkable. Courageous. Valorous. Heroic.
And best of all, it was decidedly NOT miraculous.