by Ryan Dalton
It’s been a rough week for us; though I assure you it has been no rougher or easier than any other week we find ourselves living within in this world in which we live, and how “rough” or “easy” a week is or was is merely dependent on and determined by the relativity of our perspective and what corner of this earth we find ourselves existing in.
Unimaginable tragedies happen every single day, all over the globe, unfortunately.
Tragedy is always tragedy, and indeed this world is plagued with it; although we often pick-and-choose which tragedies we pay mind to, inherently and semi-understandably biased toward those that befall close to home. We seem to have developed ways of rationalizing and or ignoring tragedies that occur far from us (“far” not only in geography, but also in the level with which we are affected by said tragedies), or even more, tragedies we are responsible for; and for those particular tragedies, ignorance is most definitely bliss, and denial mixed with justification is our celebratory cocktail.
This is not to make light of any tragedy, but rather to raise the bar when it comes to our attitudes, expressions, and grief connected to those tragedies we overlook or ignore.
Being American, I can speak as an American. And as an American, I find that our responses to American tragedies are sometimes more tragic than the tragedy itself; not always, and not by everyone, but yes, by many, and much of the time. American media tragically thrives off of tragedy, with obsessive, non-stop, 24/7 coverage, even before all the facts and details are known, reporting on every angle, even those angles that do not exist, adding more drama to an already-dramatic situation; the unnecessary “we go now to the puppy of a dog of a person who was almost affected by the terrible events” of a tragedy.
All of this, of course, only feeds our emotion and fuels our anger and increases our thirst for vengeance. If the perpetrator is American, the media finds ways of making that person appear less American, less human, a monster. If the perpetrator is not American, God forbid, the media exploits the patriotism and xenophobia that already subsists within us, and we respond with pride steeped in hate. And before we know it, we are chanting, “U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A!” over and over again; a blinding nationalism that often reduces and diminishes sympathetic sentiments of our international brothers and sisters.
Before knowing all the details and motives, we jump to conclusions, focusing on the fact that “Dzhokar Tsarnaev is Muslim,” focusing less, or not at all, on the human depravity that goes beyond religion, ethnicity, or citizenship, the depravity that causes a 19-year-old to do such an egregious thing; a 19-year-old.
In our hurt and shock and horror and dismay, we focus on the person or people responsible for a tragedy, with little focus on the society, culture, or conditions that developed, cultured, and created the level of depravity found in that person or those people; the individualistic tragedy we have become. We find all the ways that that person or those people are different, then we label, blame, and make threats, only furthering the polarity that already exists between “us and them”. We allow tragedies to continue to beget tragedies, as that very tragedy was begat.
Being human, I can speak as a human. And as a human, I wish death on no man; nor do I celebrate the death of any one of us, no matter how evil or terrible the dead individual was perceived to be. I mourn the loss of every human, even if, and especially when, that life is lost before the death of that person, for whatever reason that individual felt such a disconnect from us that they chose to respond in such a tragic and terrible way. We are all depraved in one way or another; the level of depravity is merely more obvious in some than it is in others, those who wear it on their sleeves. Human depravity knows no bounds, is not linked to a particular religion or ethnicity, nor is it confined to a specific race or class.
Depravity is a human thing; inescapable for the most part.
So, as a human, of course I mourn the death of an eight-year-old American child, along with the other lives lost, in Boston. But my tears do not begin and end with that child, or those others.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Iraq.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Afghanistan.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Libya.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Yemen.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Pakistan.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Palestine.
I mourn the death of the eight-year-old, and others, in Somalia.
I mourn the futility found in the reasons for these deaths, and the frequency at which they occur.
I mourn our involvement in all of these deaths and others, whether direct or indirect, acknowledged or unacknowledged, intentional or unintentional, hidden or exposed, covered by the media or swept under the rug.
I mourn the daily existence of tragedies in the form of poverty, inequalities, injustices, discrimination, violence, and hate, that build, and bubble, and fester, and eventually turn to “bigger” tragedies we deem worthy of headlines.
But at the same time I mourn these tragedies, I also celebrate the goodness I see around me. And I know that the goodness found in humanity outnumbers the badness by far, though the attention-seeking nature of tragedy often steals the spotlight. We are all depraved in one way or another, but at the very same time, we are all capable of immeasurable goodness. And, good or bad, I love us very much. I hope we can work all of this out.
Love and peace,