Posts Tagged With: tragedy

Conditional Pity


Here’s a confession…

As I hear more and more about police shootings and other types of violence against youth, I sometimes find myself sliding frighteningly close to the edge of CONDITIONAL PITY. See, CONDITIONAL PITY occurs when an individual or group feels sorry for what has happened to someone else, but believes that, to some degree, the victim was simply at the wrong place, or with the wrong people, or doing the wrong thing. And that somehow, if maybe they’d been in the right place, or with the right people, or doing the right thing, this tragedy could’ve been avoided.

I admit that I’ve fallen into that mindset on occasion. I’ve had to actively steer my thinking away from trying to make some sense out of violence that is in many instances all too often a senseless act. Perhaps the reason this happens is because to do so provides us with a false sense of security. Unfortunately, to rationalize the behavior of a criminal in hopes of protecting yourself from becoming a victim as well, not only trivializes the situation, but demeans the victim, and offers no real opportunity for commiseration.

Perhaps the biggest fallacy of CONDITIONAL PITY is that as long as you (or I) relegate victims to that space, you are using victim blaming to effectively convince yourself that it could never happen to you because, you know… you avoid those types of people/places/scenarios, right?

Wrong.

It’s been 11 years sense my nephew was gunned down in a drive by shooting. He was in a car, in the driveway with his cousins, preparing to go to the movies. He wasn’t in the wrong place, or with the wrong people. He was targeted for no reason that he himself could’ve changed or avoided.

I still think about him.

And it still hurts.

It’s only when we allow ourselves to recognize and acknowledge the innocence of these victims, that we can then understand and accept that no one, myself included, is truly safe. Because, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, the world is not safe. And that reality scares people. I understand that. I get scared sometimes too. But CONDITIONAL PITY is not the answer.

Instead, let us use this truth as a call to action. Safety begins at the moment of clear perception. It’s when we decide that participation is more important than observation. Be more than a spectator. In the moment one person decides to move forward, everything around them is changed. How much more so when 100 people decide to move, or 1000?

So I’m moving forward. Maybe in seeing me move, 99 others will be inspired to join me. Maybe if you move, you’ll inspire 999 others. Wouldn’t that be worth the effort? Shouldn’t it?

Opinions welcome.

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Categories: commentary, opinion, personal, relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grateful


I am deeply saddened when I hear about tragedies like the one recently at the Navy yard. I hear about people going on a rampages and shooting crowds of innocent people and my heart breaks. I’ll get into conversations with people about the How’s and Why’s behind such heinous acts and it’s always the same questions…

How on earth was he able to buy a gun??

Why didn’t people see the signs??

How did he get through the background check and gain access to the location??

Why didn’t the authorities respond sooner??

What really bothers me about this line of questioning is the assumption that only terrorists or schizophrenics are capable of harming others. But sometimes… sometimes it’s your neighbor… sometimes it’s the kid you used to babysit… sometimes it’s the guy you knew from basic training.

We’re completely caught by surprise when we learn about those who perpetrate such crimes and we immediately try to justify the behavior by attributing it to some mental illness or ties to a terrorist cell group.

“Oh, well no wonder… he had an abnormal fixation on the Middle East and Iraqi culture.”

“He had previous run-in with the law and he liked guns. So I can see how this would be something he would do.”

It’s almost as if our minds can’t seem to comprehend the fact that someone “normal” could do such a horrific thing. But honestly, what is normal? Most people I’ve met have experienced tragedy, are struggling with some type of distress or depression, or have been affected by some degree of trauma. So… WHO is normal?

Friends and family of a suspect will say things like, “I never saw this coming.” or “He was such a nice guy.” or “Something must have happened because he would never do such a thing.” The fact remains that he DID do such a thing. And you know what? I’m never surprised. I’ve come to the sobering conclusion (and this may be an unpopular opinion) that the only thing that restrains any of us is the hand of God. If it weren’t for the fact that He holds your mind, body and soul in His capable hands, you could be just as capable of this type of behavior.

And it makes me eternally grateful… every. single. day.

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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