Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Piling on

Last week's news cycle was relentless and it felt a whole lot like deja vu.

Hadn't we been here before?

Of course we have. Four months earlier there was Newtown. Before that, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Before that a movie theater in Colorado. And that's just in the past year. Deja vu suddenly feels a whole lot more like piling on and it's coming at us at seemingly ever increasing intervals.

Throw in random events like fertilizer factory explosions in map-dot towns and just like that even the word "relentless" feels inadequate.

But West, Texas, appears to be a horrible accident (unless you consider the city planning that allows an anhydrous ammonia fertilizer factory in a residential district an accident). Boston isn't.

And so, for me at least, there is a sense of helplessness. How come, in the 21st century, with a world population that is surely growing ever more sophisticated, blowing up innocents to advance an agenda (or to defend a religion, of all things) somehow still seems like a good idea to some?

This is nothing new. World history is filled with examples like this, which can only make you realize that violence, unhappily, is part of the human condition. Maybe it is the human condition.

Maybe in some future world the violence gene will be excised from the species. Cro-Magnon neanderthals may have needed it to survive. Do we? (Did I just equate the bombers with Cro-Magnons? I apologize to the Cro-Magnons).

There is one curiosity: in the midst of this strange week of violence and mayhem there has emerged stories of incredible heroism and humanity. It's a juxtaposition that almost always seems to be present in stories like these. Maybe those black-and-white opposites are the yin and yang that actually distinguishes our species.

I don't know what the answer is, and I guess that's where my feeling of helplessness lies. There may be no solution.

There's only us.

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