The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 31, 2013

Timing is everything

I was watching one of those National Geographic programs on messiahs and early Christianity one morning, when ideas seem to pop into my head for columns, and it occurred to me timing is everything in this old world.

Take last week’s deadly Moore tornado, the one that looked like the wrath of God, obliterating just about everything in its path.

Days before the tornado hit the south Oklahoma City suburb, the sun had been shining with wispy clouds darting about in the Oklahoma wind.

Yet, in a caprice of nature, Gulf moisture came up on brisk southerly winds from the south, the sun warmed the air, a frontal boundary, jet-stream winds and a dryline all combined to form a monster tornado that devastated schools, houses, businesses and people unable to get below ground.

The result: possibly $2 billion in damage, 24 deaths and the uprooting of thousands of Oklahoma families in mere minutes.

Timing absolutely was everything.

That’s the quick and simple truth of our lives, with thousands of examples from history to back up this observation.

Gen. George Washington crosses the ice-choked Delaware River one Christmas night in 1776, completely surprising the British mercenary Hessians at Trenton, N.J., the following morning.

Had Gen. George’s army not been a hair’s breadth from disintegration, starvation and mind-numbing cold and defeat, the eventual father of our country may never have taken such a gamble — a last, desperate military move that saved the American Revolution and sent his Continentals on to victory over the most powerful military army and navy on earth.

Timing is everything.

Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson is not accidentally wounded by his own men in the darkness of the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville. Teaming once again with the field brilliance of Robert E. Lee, the South invades Pennsylvania and wins the Battle of Gettysburg, forcing an early end to the war, and splitting this country in two. No more United States of America.

Timing is everything.

Hypothetically, an EF-5 tornado forms in the western part of Kiowa County outside Gotebo, and begins an earth-churning 200-mile path right through the heart of the Sooner State. Yet, in a twist of nature, timing and all the other ingredients you see brought to bear, it strikes a scant few farm houses along the way. It tears up some barns, downs power lines and alters the lives of several thousand trees, but doesn’t strike a single city or town.

Timing is everything.

In June 1908, an air burst from either an exploding comet or meteor occurred over the Tunguska River in east-central Russia. The explosion devastated a region of about 830 square miles and knocked down 80 million trees. Because it was in an area of almost no population, it very nearly went unnoticed by history.

But, had that same explosive airburst occurred along roughly the same latitude, Moscow could have been totally destroyed, wiping out the seeds of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

It could have obliterated London, rendering the British Isles a large and essentially dead rock, or killed a young Adolph Hitler in Austria. Any of those three events would have had a tumultuous and staggering effect on the history of this planet.

Timing is everything.

President Harry Truman, with the deadliest weapon ever developed at his fingertips, ultimately makes the decision not to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States is forced to invade Japan’s homeland, and literally millions of American soldiers, sailors and aviators are killed and wounded — not to mention Japan and its population are totally decimated. You and I and a whole bunch of others in America today might not be reading (or writing) this article.

Economies could have been wrecked, and the intricate and subtle checks and balances of world economic and military power well could have been altered — to the point a globe wracked by a decade of world war could have spun out of control, into economic chaos, more war, famine, pestilence and all the ingredients for the human race to essentially cease to exist.

Timing is everything.

When I’m out for a walk along a fairly busy stretch of road near my house, and I cross that road when nobody is driving by, I am entering a space that soon will be occupied by a vehicle. Walking on, in a few seconds I vacate that same space soon to be filled by a vehicle moving 55 mph — one that might strike and kill me if I were occupying that same space at the moment the vehicle was there.

Timing is everything.

This simple fact is with us throughout our lifetimes. It always has been, and — as we continue to spin on our earth axis — always will be.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Go to his column blog at http://enid news.com/historicallyspeaking

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