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Monday, April 15, 2013

Too Many Tragedies and Disasters

Someone asked me today, "Did you hear about the Boston disaster?"

"It's not a disaster, it's a tragedy," I corrected before I caught myself.

That's what's been done to me over the years. I separate such horrible events like what happened today in Boston into two categories: tragedies or disasters.

It's been a long Monday, the longest in a few years I feel. 4-15-13 will become the next date seared on the memory of our national consciousness. Just another date to add to a growing list.

I reflected this afternoon on how many tragedies and disasters I've experienced in my brief 24 year lifetime. Just to name some off the top of my head, without any research: the OKC bombings, Columbine, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech Shootings, Sandy Hook Elementary, and now the Boston Marathon.

Those are the ones that stand out to me for various reasons. Each experienced a loss of life that was unexpected and horrifying. Each was unique in its circumstance yet all shared one common theme: how much sorrow they brought forth from me.

And yet, with all that sorrow, I feel numb. Just doing a comparison between my parents and myself, the first 24 years of their life did not have as many horrifying events in it, at least not that I can recall immediately. If I researched it I'm sure I'd find that bad stuff happened then too, that they too experienced their share of tragedies and disasters.

But I'm calling it different for me and my generation. For those of us who grew up as the world became smaller and information became easier to access. We don't have to go back and dig out old newspaper clippings and photos from the attic to remember our tragedies and disasters.

All we need to do is search Google.

In minutes after the Boston Marathon tragedy occurred, pictures began flooding the Internet. Most of them depicted people in states of shock and horror. Some of them depicted blood splattered against the sidewalk, some of people suffering from bloody injuries, and some of just chaos.

We will forever be able to revisit this day thanks to the Internet. Just as we're able to revisit 9/11.

Am I saying it's on the same level? No. 9/11 was a disaster. Today was a tragedy. But both suffered losses of life and both were unnecessary and cruel. The toll, emotionally and spiritually, will be high for both.

But I feel like with every new tragedy and disaster, I grow just a little more numb. I feel like we, as a nation, are going that route. We're not a perfect country and we're not a perfect people, far from it, but we should strive to not become numb at these things. We should strive to remember the pain and the hurt, to let the tears be shed and let the anger be heard.

We should strive to feel.

Because the day we don't, the day we accept one of these tragedies or disasters at face value, the day that it doesn't register for us, is the day that the true disaster as occurred.

That day is the day the enemy has won. When you make a people numb, when you remove their ability to feel, everything else is easy.

I want to cry for Boston but I find myself unable to. It's sunk in and I feel it there, waiting, the pressure behind my eyes great.

But no tears will shed. I can't cry for them. I can only feel sorrow and express it in this limited manner.

But if you can cry, please do so. There's no shame in it. There's nothing wrong with it. Cry for those of us that can't. Cry for those in Boston who cannot cry anymore. They deserve to elicit tears of sorrow, of compassion, from others.

And once you're done crying, once you've mourned, please remember them.

Feelings are fleeting but memories last. If you remember them, they will not be lost.

They deserve that, too.

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