One of the things I dislike about the media is the idea of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Reading the news in any country, one might think that Thomas Hobbes was right, life really is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” I actually wanted to write about Sukkot, the Christians who are visiting Israel right now for the Feast of the Tabernacles, the parade that marched through the streets of Jerusalem showing love for Israel and making a joyful noise, and the fact that I have had what I consider one “perfect day” after another.
And then my Facebook wall filled up with the news of two national tragedies. I was troubled.
Tragedy 1: Students were shot in class. Christians seemed to be the targets.
Tragedy 2: A Jewish couple was shot in their car travelling on a highway. Their four children were in the back seats.
People died, but that’s not the story. Eventually, we will hear about the victims, but the filler of the stories will be the politics. Sides will be taken and the people who died and their families will be footnotes in some other story that other people are telling.
Where is the humanity?
One story took place in Oregon. It will be about gun laws and probably about mental illness and societal breakdown. The other story took place here – even naming the location is political. That story will be about place and the question of terrorism versus “justified” rage. In one story, the victims will fade into the background, wallpaper for a story about a guy who lost it and went on a rampage (I suppose). In the other story, the victims will be either glorified or it will be suggested that they “deserved it” because of where they chose to live.
And again I ask, where is the humanity? Human beings lost their lives today. Families were shattered. The race to find out how to spin the story to suit a particular narrative is beyond distasteful, it’s disgusting.
You probably know which story took place where. But I purposefully didn’t point it out. The reason is that I would like you, dear reader, to consider your response if you didn’t know where the stories took place.
I hope you would have the same reaction to both tragedies. People were murdered in cold blood. The victims were killed by gunmen who didn’t agree with their beliefs. They were not fighting a war. They were human beings going to school and driving on a road. If we haven’t totally lost our humanity, the politics should not matter.
I especially want to applaud the local sheriff in Oregon, John Hanlin, who said that he will not say the name of the shooter. The victims – may their memories be a blessing – deserve better than to be forever linked with their killer.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of these tragedies. The hole in their lives will never be filled by the politics. Let us also find our own humanity and in some small way prove Hobbes wrong.
Life doesn’t have be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Together, let’s try to reject the bleeding leads. Let’s celebrate life. Live joyfully. Love, or at least respect, one another. It’s possible, but we will have to find our humanity first.