nonsensical text

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

no preservatives

sleeping with bread

I have never liked sandwiches. As a child, my mother would pack me a lunch with a single piece of white bread and a slice of the only lunch meat I would eat at the time (Lebanon bologna). I would proceed to take them apart and eat them separately – the meat first, and a few bites of the dry bread. Even now, I often have my peculiarities in that realm. I also tend to take other things apart that perhaps should remain together.

Yesterday, when I read the news about the events at VA Tech, I was saddened – I am sure we all were, but one thing that made me the saddest of all was my initial reaction. I felt….nothing. My mind recognized it as a terrible tragedy, but I didn’t feel tragic. My thoughts went out to those who were suffering, but my heart didn’t flutter. I wasn’t surprised. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t. In fact, until I came across a list of the victims on MSN and read a short profile of Liviu Librescu, it didn’t hit home. He was a 76 year old instructor who was born in Romania, survived the holocaust, and emigrated to Israel before finally settling in The US. He died while blocking the door to his classroom, thus enabling many of his students to escape through windows before the shooter gunned him down. He survived so much only to be murdered in a place of higher education – a place where children are sent to arm them with knowledge and abilities designed to protect them from hopelessness and destitution.

The world has become a very small place. We are now able to hear and see news from around the globe while it is actually taking place. The hurts and ails of the globe are our daily diet. In years before communication lines were so swift, each community banded together in their griefs and joys. It was not necessary to seek a personal element because those suffering were a part of every day life in the community. Now, I may know what happens in another country, but I don’t know why six police cars and an ambulance are visiting a house two blocks away. I have become desensitized to much of the horror because, to some extent, it is no more real to me than the latest box office smash.

As my husband and I drove toward a concert hall this evening, I found myself watching the rush hour commuters at a corner bus stop. They probably ride the same bus with the same people on almost a daily basis, and yet, in the three minutes we sat at the traffic light, not once did any of them make eye contact with each other. We have likely all done the same on elevators, in grocery lines, in public restrooms.

I am glad to live in an era in which technology has brought the ends of the earth closer together, but I grieve that we do it at the loss of care for our neighbor next door. I grieve that the regular onslaught of the world’s tribulations makes me, personally, build a thicker shell of protection around my emotions.

Consolation is difficult to find when the nation has been shaken by any kind of tragedy, but there is some still. We, in much the same way as the village of old, stand together in our grief. Our minds turn together in prayer or positive thoughts for those afflicted. We each count our own blessings a lot more accurately for a moment in time. The political and spiritual divides continue to exist, but for the moment, the united grief takes precedence over the disagreement.

And on a more personal note, an Israeli professor who gave up his life that others might live helps me, for an instant, to take my eyes off of the hardened crust of apathetic depression which creates a barrier between the desolations and consolations of my own soul.



  • It did not all hit me at first, either. But I know that is often my initial response. Once the personal stories started coming out, that's when I started getting emotional. Before the convocation yesterday, a reporter got choked up as he described the rescue workers hearing the cell phones of the victims and that's when my tears began. They continued at the end of the convocation when the crowd burst into the school cheer.

    The story of that professor (more tears) is also a consolation to me.

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 9:27 AM  

  • Thank God (and I mean that literally) that there is often good to focus on in the midst of horror -- for instance the professor that gave his life for his students. I found the same thing on 9/11 when I watched doctors and nurses saving the lives of patients in a critical care unit on the same day that evil men decided to wreak death and chaos on so many. Those acts of good and beauty make it possible for me to keep from being a very bitter person.

    By Blogger Terri B., at 4:51 PM  

  • The world has become a smaller place, hasn't it?

    And that 'off switch' that I learned to throw to void myself of any feeling whatsoever, gets switched on very easily today.
    I think I might be grateful for that.

    By Blogger Mel, at 6:55 PM  

  • I've had the same numb reaction to it. But that professor - yes, somehow he is the epitome of hero.

    By Blogger spidermama, at 10:15 PM  

  • Mary - yeah the cell phone thing is just...well...just too...

    Terri - well said! I have to agree about that. Perhaps that is why we so readily grasp those sparkling gems scattered through the ashes.

    Mel - Yeah, there are times in which I am very grateful for that switch. you know what, though? Someone always manages to turn that switch back on when I am least expecting it.

    My spidery friend, may I first say how glad I am to see you around? I missed you. Of course, I started running into limited time right when you got to come back. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you and I shared this reaction.


    By Blogger atypical, at 12:18 AM  

  • atypical, I really appreciate this post.

    By Anonymous MarillaAnne, at 7:13 PM  

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