I’m sorry – it’s been a long week and I know I haven’t been posting as I should. But this LATimes op-ed says something important far better than I ever could, and it deserves posting and disseminating: We’re not all victims – pdf
FIVE DAYS after the Virginia Tech massacre, the friends and families of the victims are grieving â€” and despite the relentless glare of the media spotlight, their pain is still private. It belongs to them, not to the rest of us.
But you sure wouldn’t know it from the way we talk about the tragedy.
[…] Count me out. There’s something fraudulent about this eagerness to latch onto the grief of others and embrace the idea that we, too, have been victimized. This trivializes the pain felt by those who have actually lost something and pathologizes normal reactions to tragedy. Empathy is good, but feeling shocked and saddened by the shootings doesn’t make us traumatized or special â€” these feelings make us normal.
Our self-indulgent conviction that we have all been traumatized also operates, ironically, to shut down empathy for other, less media-genic victims. […]
Our collective insistence that we all share in the Virginia Tech trauma is a form of anti-politics, one that blinds us to the distinctions between different kinds and degrees of suffering.
[…] Lumping together the space shuttle disasters, Columbine and Virginia Tech with terrorism, natural disasters and war dangerously decontextualizes these disparate events.