It is in the face of tragedy that we as Americans learn about ourselves and our fellow countrymen. We are brought to our knees by terror, yet lifted up by our companionship, community and patriotism. These traits shine through so we see the good in ourselves but our flaws are just as prevalent. Reflection of how we react to such tragedies as the Boston bombing and Texas explosion is necessary. With reflection, we can learn about our societies virtues and vices, goods and bads, strengths and weaknesses. These are my observations and criticisms of our society and its reactions to tragedy.
I praise our country for the patriotism and unity that has held strong as we have come together. It is during times like these that our bonds grow stronger, when our liberty and sovereignty is threatened and innocents are targeted and endangered. We never forget the victims and their families ; and the support provided to them is seemingly endless as it should be. We honor the victims through candle light vigils, prayer, and other modes of community fellowship.
Tragedies bring out the best people in our society as well, especially from the people who put themselves in the line of danger – the police, firefighters, and EMTs. We commemorate these figures for what they have done and sacrificed; for their value is much greater to society than any actor, singer, athlete or other entertainer we too often idolize. They should receive their rightful share of praise, as we should focus on them and not those who caused the treacherous crimes. It is not only professionals who respond but also our regular citizens; this tells us we are not a society of bystanders and gawkers but of responders, take for example those who ran towards the explosions rather than away from them.
Yet again we see our people triumph in the face of tragedy, in our pursuit of justice. It was a just feeling as “Suspect 2,” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was brought into custody and people flooded the streets and cheered in the name of patriotism, justice, and respect for the fallen. And justice will continually be pursued in our court system.
But it would be conceited to only extract the good of society in the face of tragedy. When tragedy strikes, our society’s weaknesses (not just defensive weaknesses) are also prevalent but are all too often over-looked. It concerns me that it is only when tragedy is present that our country as a whole relies on prayer and God for support, but when tragedy is absent society is quickly secularized. I believe that in the face of tragedy we are inherently spiritual creatures, for we seek support and comfort from a higher order or being which is above all else rather than mere government. The problem is that as a country, we only do this in the face of tragedy. My point is that faith provides answers which our government cannot: it acts as the crutch of society. Whatever that faith may be is up to the individual, whether it be Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or any other faith. When faced with tragedy, any faith is better than no faith at all. As my TCC colleague Brian Miller put it, liberals say we are on the wrong side of history and that our country does not believe in a transcending moral order. So unfortunately, I anticipate that our country will again abandon all spirituality and faith once more until the time that we are once again thrust before tragedy.
I observe yet another major flaw that paralyzes society in the form of political correctness. The media refused not to judge these “suspects” by labeling them as evil, Muslim, terrorists, or extremists until adequate evidence was provided. This is something society should view as offensive. Society has allowed themselves to be blinded by political correctness at the hand of the media in fear of alienating a few. There should be no offense taken in labeling these men as evil extremist Muslim terrorists if that is quite obviously the truth. There are no generalizations in this label. The most ignorant act a society could partake in is being fearful to call something as it is: evil, as another colleague Amy Lutz recently explained.
But we must not mistake tragedies only to be acts committed by terrorists or some bad accidents. Our society seems to be blind to tragedy unless it is staring us in the face. Take for example the trial of Kermit Gosnell. This is most definitely a tragic event, and yet so many Americans are not even aware of what took place at Gosnell’s “abortion clinic”. Perhaps this is because of the media’s bias in favor of abortion rights. But I would say it is just as much society’s fault for being so dependent on the mainstream media as their sole source of information. The Gosnell case exemplifies Orwell’s Newspeak in our major media outlets. In the media’s mind, the pro-life movement is a modern-day thoughtcrime. Thus we cannot afford to rely only on major media outlets for our information because they they choose which tragedies we are exposed to based on their own dogmas.
I am proud of our country and my fellow citizens as we have joined together in great acts of patriotism, the pursuit of justice, and unity to stand up in the face of tragedy. Let our hearts mourn for the victims and their families and our mouths praise the heroes. Let the gavel of justice strike down any and all involved in these crimes against our country and our freedoms. But we as a country cannot be so conceited and blind to ignore our weaknesses which also reveal themselves in the face of tragedy. I plead with society to embrace our intrinsic spiritual nature, a transcending order, and sever the constrictions of political correctness. We must look beyond our media outlets for information so that we might discover other tragedies out there like those committed by Gosnell. The first step in overcoming such tragedies is awareness of them; then we can join together as we did following the Boston bombings for redemption and healing.
Derek Draplin | University of Michigan | @DDraps24