Humanity has always been a mixed group. We’re creative, inquisitive, inspiring and revolutionary. There have been countless inventions and creative pieces that have stemmed from various culture, creating for an eclectic mix of foods, writings, architecture and what have you. On the flip side, we’ve done absolutely horrible things, including war, genocide, all the ***-isms we seem to never be able to get rid of. And what’s astonishing to me is the way these things, these sharply contrasting events of unthinkable success and appalling misfortune, share their space. Whether it’s in history, the news or people’s daily conversations, it seems the gap is closing in the way we see these things. Since when can we skip from getting rid of malaria in Sri Lanka to casual conversations on the latest truck to drive through an active city center with malicious intent, murdering over 10 people and putting way more in the hospital? Bouncing from olympic re-runs to atrocities in Aleppo back to the weather. And so many more like this.
As I get older and start to both pay more attention to and better understand world events, underlying politics and a bunch of other adult stuff, the more disheartening things become. I’m not saying I’m laying down as a faithless pessimist waiting for doomsday, because if anything this makes me more impassioned to participate in any way I can in hopes of changing the world. But at what point did we become so complacent, so accustomed to all the havoc being wreaked around us? This morning it was 3 events: the attack on the Christmas market in Berlin, the assassination of a Russian ambassador in Ankara and a mosque shooting in Zurich. It flooded my facebook feed, the television and my thoughts. And yet, despite it weighing on my mind for the rest of the day, my main feelings were along the lines of ‘not again’ and ‘what comes next’. And isn’t that one of the saddest things.
I’m not saying that there’s a proper course of action to be taken after events like these, or that there’s something to be done in every case. But the fact that these things have become so normalized, the reality of thousands of civilians dying with the world on standby, of terrorist attacks and school shootings tallying their way into a long history of these extraordinary acts of human indecency, is appalling. I assume I speak for most when I say that these days we all wake up wondering what new gruesome installation of horror is going to be inked across newspapers, a flashing nightly news headline for a day or two before it’s replaced with something else. And once we see it, we may mourn, hit with a wave of grief for what the world’s become, before going back to our tea or coffee and feeling mildly impressed at the latest groundbreaking discovery in neurological research or some other field.
It’s this mix, this desensitization towards rape, murder and more, alongside a muted sense of excitement at what are truly groundbreaking and life-changing discoveries and inventions. When did things lose their wonder, or their ability to shock us? Why have we come to be dismissive of everything, even if it sometimes feels like the only way to manage when the world is so full of wild and unspeakable things? Even in the everyday, acts of racism, sexism, xenophobia and more are woven into our expectations – it’s disgusting. We all have voices, and the ability to see right from wrong. We as people, of a nation, of the earth, a beings with basic reasoning abilities, shouldn’t be lulled into a sense of compromise or settling in the face of tragedies big and small. Jeesh, just typing that – big vs small tragedies – and having horrible news pop into my head and being able to rank it in terms of how many dead (hm, only 10 this time?), how (at least there was no rape) and plenty of other factors, is sickening.
I just want people to be less dismissive, myself included. Another school shooting today? What could have been done, and how can we address it in the future. Another hate crime? What are the policies surrounding the cases, how is it reported on and what’s happening to the perpetrator? If it’s not fair, how can we make it so? I think the lack of deep thinking on issues, the classic it’s-not-me-so . . . attitude, and the ridiculous frequency with which we see these events popping up has made us not care. And we need to. The fact that belittling women, people of color and queer folk is okay and written into policies is disgusting. The world’s hands-off approach in the face of cultural and physical genocide is pathetic. Our loss of the ability to react to what has become the latest in a series of shootings/terrorist attacks/what have you is frightening. We need to wake up to the fact these our world has become far too full of hatred and violent acts and think about how we can move towards change as individuals, states, countries and a global community. The more we push things aside the more heinous deeds we come to tolerate until it’s too late to go back. So why don’t we take a stand instead?