Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Iraq, VT, and Violence

Manila Ryce at The Largest Minority today posted about the media's response to the shootings at Virginia Tech. He points out well the hypocrisy of the media's coverage of the shootings. After all, "the death of 32 innocent civilians would be considered a good day in Iraq."

This hypocrisy is hardly the fault of the news media - we all care more deeply and viscerally about terrible events that are either a) closer to us or b) a change from the norm. My high school physics teacher said our bodies are not spedometers, they are accelerometers. Our emotions are similar, measuring changes in our environments rather than absolute values. Who was it that said that "if a million people all the way around the world die, its a shame, but if I stub my toe, I curse the heavens for an hour"? It was somebody famous. And that was pretty close to what he said, anyway. Should this be how we are? Maybe we can't hope to cope with reality if we take every tragedy to heart. That is a sad thought about the world.

But maybe in this case we can use what happened yesterday at VT to guide us towards better dealing with our problems in Iraq. This is what it feels like to lose 32 bright young adults with any combat missions or terror cells. And there families in Iraq that know this pain every day. Or worse: in Iraq maybe it is possible to become deadened to terrible loss of life, day in and day out - to see, hear and touch death, but not feel it. What kind of country is our conflict shaping? What are we making its people become?

So towards answers, and steps forward. Do we stop the violence by shooting more? Do we stop the process of desensitizing by sending more soldiers?

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