Recent tragedy underscores importance of simple acts

They’re calling it yet another “senseless act of violence.”

The term has been thrown around a lot over the past 10 months to describe the smattering of shootings that have occurred in Denver, Chardon, Ohio, and Newtown, Conn., and is now being used to label the bombings that occurred Monday at the Boston Marathon. The fact that we  have used the same collective, abstract phrase to describe all of these different tragic events seems cold to me.

We, as a people, cannot allow ourselves to normalize these events, no matter how frequently things like this have been happening. We can’t let ourselves become numb to the suffering of others, no matter how remote it may seem in our lives. Even though we have become so used to seeing attacks like this splashed across the headlines and all over each others’ Facebook and Twitter pages, we can’t slip into feelings of apathy.

It seems like we’ve been handed tragedy after tragedy so rapidly that we don’t even have time to properly make sense of or begin to process one before another equally as heinous occurs. The process with which we do this is seeming to become alarmingly repetitive. We hear what happened, whether it be from social media or a friend, we discuss what happened with others, we post on Facebook about how our thoughts or prayers go out to the victims, and we stop thinking about it after a couple weeks.

I’m not saying that we need to walk around in a constant state of depression, and I’m not saying any of us can possibly fathom what it must be like for the victims of such crimes. But I do think we need to make an active effort to view this as something that happened to real, flesh and blood human beings. We shouldn’t complain about the fact that this is all that is and will continue to be on the news for the foreseeable future. We should learn about what happened – learn the names of the victims, read firsthand accounts, watch video footage. We should try as best we can to feel empathy so that it doesn’t become just another sad story that has no impact on the way we treat one another in day to day interactions.

And what more can we do, really? Life must go on, and we can’t prevent bad people from doing bad things – a thought that personally makes me feel very small in the grand scheme of things.

But we can each do our small part in making the world more open to kindness, and hope that these types of actions will gradually sow love among the people we come into contact with on a daily basis and beyond.

We live in a society that is very much geared toward the individual. Many of us walk to class, study and even work out with our headphones shoved so far into our ear canals that we shut ourselves off from everyone else. We walk and drive with blinders on, with no regard for the people who we perceive to simply be “in our way” as we attempt to speed walk to class or to make good time driving home for the weekend.

But if we attempt to look outward instead of just inward at ourselves, if we look upon others with kindness and understanding instead of with judgment or annoyance, if we replace feelings of intolerance with feelings of acceptance, I truly believe we can change more than we think.

 

CHRISTINE PEFFER

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