Monday, April 22, 2013

No Ranks

To my son Tommy,

I overheard people talking about the Boston Marathon and in their conversation they started ranking tragedies.  They put 911 and the towers at the top and 911 at the pentagon as a second and this tragedy here and that tragedy there and so on so on, making their way through Sandy Hook, and the Batman movie shooting, and Columbine, and Texas fertilizer plants, and every tragedy in the past two decades.  I bit my tongue but was quite upset by this conversation.

I guess from the outside point of view you can somehow quantify tragedy.  You could put it in some type of formula for scale and number of lives touched and come up with this ranking system.  Our human nature to rank and classify makes it very difficult to resist doing just that.  But that is part of the problem, everyone looking from the outside in.

If you are part of a tragedy, there is no quantifying your pain.  No matter how big or small the tragedy, your pain is real and tangible.  A person who lost their life in the Boston Marathon bombing is no more or less tragic than a person who lost their life in 911 which is no more or less tragic than a person who lost their life to a car accident.  If your family is touched, it doesn't matter how horrific or grandiose or how small and personal the event was that caused the grief.  It still hurts.

And that is what everyone has to remember as we go forward.  Tragedy is tragedy and as outsiders we have to do our best to put ourselves in other people's shoes and resist judging the event without the compassion necessary.  I am extremely saddened that we have enough tragedies in my lifetime to get to a top ten list and I continue to send all my prayers to those who have been touched by tragedy, be it something on a large scale or a more personal tragedy.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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