How to Respond to Tragedy – a Simple Guide

Apparently, online, many people have trouble figuring out how to respond to tragedy, such as the news of the bombings in Boston.

I’ll break it down and make it simple.

Here’s the right reaction: sadness, sorrow, and an expression of sympathy.

Here’s a few wrong reactions:

First, this is not the time for your gun control debate or jokes about “we should ban explosives.” It’s time to think that someone is dead, not think “Oh, I can score some points in my agenda.”

Second, it’s also not the time for your debate about how we need to lock more people who up won’t ever shoot, stab, or bomb anyone. That would be 99.99% or more of the “mentally ill” who are at far more risk of being a victim than committing the act.

Third, it’s not time to make points about how awful the USA or whoever else is, whether it’s due to our excess or due to our country’s involvement with killing others. It is not the time. It’s the time to say, “I’m sorry people are dead.”

Forth, it’s not the time to say “other people have it worse.” We all know that. If I say I’m sorry that there are people dead in Boston, that doesn’t mean I think Iraqis killed are okay. It means I’m sorry there are people dead in Boston. It should go without saying that death anywhere is bad. Unfortunately it doesn’t.

Sure, there’s a time and place for gun control debates. And for discussing how we treat the mentally ill. And even for pointing out the wrongs America has committed. Or that some people are at extreme risk of violence every day, way above those of most Americans, and too often they are ignored. These are all important things to talk about! But, damn it, this isn’t the time.

It’s really simple. Think of the person who lost a loved one, who might stumble on your point-winning argument. Let them bury their dead. We’ll still have plenty of time for you to score your points.

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