This headline is an uplifting way to begin your Friday: “Apocalyptic asteroid strike that could wipe out humanity is ‘only a matter of time,’ top scientist warns.” Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast told the BBC, “We will get a serious asteroid impact sometime. It may not be in our lifetime, but mother nature controls when that will happen.”
Here’s another news item to make your day: we may be facing a french fries crisis.
Crop damage due to cold and wet weather is causing a shortage of potatoes in North America. As a result, the US Department of Agriculture expects the nation’s output of potatoes to drop 6.1 percent compared to the previous year. Consequently, prices may rise and we may see a shortage of french fries in the near future.
Here’s my question: Which of these stories feels more real to you?
A “city-killer” NASA missed
We’ve been warned about “killer asteroids” before, but humanity still survives.
Fortunately, NASA assures us that it “knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.”
Here’s the problem: the space agency could be wrong.
They didn’t spot the “city-killer” asteroid that narrowly missed Earth last July until just hours before it shot past us. The manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies admitted, “This object slipped through a whole series of our capture nets, for a bunch of different reasons.”
When it comes to killer asteroids, it just takes one. But no one knows when—or if—that one will arrive.
“The worst natural disaster in the history of North America”
The french fries crisis, on the other hand, is a real-time problem. We may not be astrophysicists qualified to calculate the trajectory of near-Earth objects, but most of us “would like fries with that.” We can understand this threat to our fast-food consumption.
It’s human nature to focus on problems we think we can control to the exclusion of those we cannot. That’s usually good advice for countering stress and anxiety.
Here’s the catch: our biggest problems are more like asteroids than french fries. The fact that we cannot control them only makes them worse.
Consider an example: Kathryn Schulz’s Pulitzer-Prize winning 2015 article in The New Yorker describes how “an earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest.” She warns that this inevitable cataclysm, many years overdue, will be “the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.” But I was left unchanged by Schulz’s remarkable essay because I don’t know what I can do to make a difference.
The Pearl Harbor shooting on Wednesday feels far from home since Pearl Harbor is nearly four thousand miles from my home. But Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s declaration this week that our city’s crime rate is “patently unacceptable” feels closer to home because Dallas is my home.
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Source: Christian Headlines