Experience is typically something we associate with a positive, we list it under the ‘Pro’ column, and we hold it in high regard. It is something we seek out and make continuous effort to achieve it in various areas of our lives, but there are occasions when it is not as desirable.
I’ve lived through a handful of tragedies in my lifetime, ranging from school shootings to hate crimes to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but I have never experienced tragedy first hand. So in the many times I have felt pain, sadness, confusion, and anger I always have to remember that those feelings are nothing compared to those directly affected and experiencing the tragedy.
On Friday our world was hit with multiple tragedies all in the span of 24 hours and it rocked humanity to a unique core. Paris, Japan, Beirut, Baghdad, and Mexico were dramatically altered in their existence on this earth, and along with it so, so, many people. Between the five cities and the five tragedies our world lost over 100,000 lives, a number that is hard to truly grasp. The world has stopped to show them support and sympathy in as many ways as we can and it’s moving, but I can’t help but find it a little…odd.
From special photo overlays to status updates to tweets to Instagram photos of drawings to Tumblr posts, there seems to be a way to include yourself in this moment even if you’re not actually apart of it. And I am just as guilty of it as everyone else, I tweeted my shock and heartbreak and shared a picture here and a post there, so I am not absolved from this either. It’s just when I was given time to step back, to read and take in the way others were also reacting I saw that there are so many layers to empathy and grieving and support.
I don’t mean to say that I think everyone is saying the things they are or posting pictures or sharing articles in order to fit in with the crowd or make it known they care, that they have a heart. That could be the case for some, but I have a better belief in humanity than that, I think the majority of people truly send their thoughts and prayers to the numerous people directly affected by all these tragedies with the most honest of intentions. I just happen to realize that how it was a blow to me in the middle of a work shift, but by the time I was home it seemed like a well-known historic moment. Already in the span of a few hours I could return to my life without spending more than a handful of minutes thinking about an event that was impacting every second, every breath of other people’s lives. Our world is huge and so when a massive event like any of the five that happened on Friday occur there are so many people who are literally far removed from it that the impact is a blip compared to the roadblock those in the immediate location face.
Watching reactions unfold and updates roll in from not only Paris but Japan and Mexico and Baghdad and Beirut it has forced me to think about things. I was thinking for a moment that it is really amazing how as a human race we can come together to support those who are in need of love and kind words, but then it reminded me what prompted that and it felt like, for a brief moment, I was celebrating and praising the tragedies that had occurred. Internally I know that nobody is happy these things happened so we can be a stronger humanity, stand strong together against forces that choose to hurt and break us, but it is important to point out that sometimes that is the only time we see such a united front.
Reaction is a big ingredient to experience and can often predict consequences and outcomes. So in the coming days and weeks as we gather our reactions from initial to the long-term effects of these events, we have to be aware of the experience we want this to give us. It indeed has started as a negative, however it doesn’t have to remain that way.