dimarts, de setembre 12, 2006

Don't they have enough sadness? (English)

Recently, a local state police officer was killed in the line of duty. He was only a couple years older than I, and he left behind a young child. By all accounts, his is a sad story. No one would wish to find themselves in the circumstance of losing a spouse, a friend, a father in such a manner, and for his family, I really do feel sympathy. I've lost friends, family, people who were near and dear to me; indeed, over the last 34 years I have lost many, as I have written about variously on this blog. Yes, I feel bad for his family. Yet, I was not one of estimated 7,500 people who went to his viewing or his funeral. Of course I wouldn't be. I knew neither him nor his family. I have no personal investment in his life, and of course, neither did the overwhelming majority of the people who went. So why did they go?

Have we become so bereft of real connections to our fellow countrymen, our neighbors, our friends and family that we now feel the need to mourn the death of a perfect stranger? This officer's story was no more compelling than all the other law enforcement officials we have in this country who lose their lives in the line of duty every year, nor more so than those who have died in Iraq. He was in a line of work where he, and his kith and kin, knew all too well the gross dangers he would put himself in every single day. It's tragic that he was killed, but it's not really surprising.

A couple weeks ago, 59 people died in a plane crash in Kentucky, and hundreds of people went to local churches to mourn. Additionally memorial services were held at the Lexington Opera House and a local arena. Hardly anyone on the plane was from Kentucky apparently. All these people went to mourn, but to mourn whom?

I ask again, what has happened to people in this country when they feel compelled to mourn so publicly, so overtly for people who made no impact on their lives. Do they not have loss of their own anymore? Is this a demonstration of a need to build more human connections with their peers, their families? Is it a sign that they spend too much time watching television and living vicariously through people who actually have real lives, and therefore real problems?

For my own part, I had to go to viewing, a wake as they call them in this neck of woods, last week for a secretary and friend from work. Her husband had died suddenly. While I had met him once or twice before, I knew her well, and her daughter had been my student, her son had worked on the college's SGA, and so I knew him from there. I went to express my condolences to her and her children, to show my empathy for their situation (I was only in my 20's when my father died). In this case, while I didn't know her husband, I knew them, and so it made sense for me to go. To be sure, the police officer who died here in New York was not known by 7,500 people, not even in passing, nor were his family. It seems like more and more people don't have enough sadness in their lives. Perhaps, implicitly they realize how sadness makes life worth living, and having never made many real connections with people, they will steal someone else's sadness to make their lives worth living. I really don't know, but in my valley, I have more than enough of the stuff to go around for this life time, I won't be purloining anyone else's...

2 comentaris:

Tree ha dit...

I wonder how I would feel if I were the wife of the police officer that died. Would I be touched by the community's alleged show of support/condolences/empathy or would I feel intruded upon? Grief is a very private thing, after all. I can't think of a human emotion more raw that new grief.

I think maybe people are looking for more connection with each other. Maybe it's not as bad as people wanting to steal sadness or gawk at another's misfortune or anything else like that. Given that people are so busy, so nomadic, no longer so church-oriented (albeit, that's a good thing, for the most part), maybe opportunities to gather in such a fashion are seized because it's some way to feel part of a community and a way to feel like one is being a good community member.

I don't know. I'm just musing, and I've yet to even get out of bed and have my first cup of coffee. :-)

Gwyddno Schenectady ha dit...

I wonder how she feels too. And speculate also that it's too bad we don't spend more time building bridges between people close to us, so we can wistfully glance at the sadness of others and merely say: oh I've felt that way, those, poor, poor people. Then we can move away and cherish the love we still have...