Friday, October 02, 2015

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood ... not!

I woke up in the early hours of the morning as I always do.
I made myself coffee and breakfast, and had them while reading the paper, as I always do.
Yet another morning, and yet another day.
For me.

But, it is not yet another morning and yet another day a few miles down the road from me in a town called Roseburg.
A gunman killed nine people and injured seven others during a shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning, shocking residents statewide and drawing the eyes of the nation to the stunned rural community.
For me, this is merely yet another morning.  But there in Roseburg, and to the families of the nine who died, this is the first morning of the many that they will have to face with heavy hearts and with tears on their faces.

When a death happens within our immediate circles, it is one of the most devastating events of our lives.  "When you lose someone very close to you, the very fabric of your life is ripped to shreds."  When it happens to a neighbor, we feel the death for a few minutes perhaps.  When it is in a town over, maybe it is fodder for conversation.  When people die unnatural deaths in a Syria or Iraq, we merely shrug our shoulders and go on with our lives.

Such is life and such is human behavior!

Ironically, yesterday began remarkably optimistically.  I scanned the New York Times, as I always do, and read Nicholas Kristof's column.  Ever since I came to know about Kristof's Oregon connections, I have a special warm, soft, corner for him.   His column was celebrating the most important thing in the world that we do not talk about enough: "a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease."

I was pleasantly shocked.  After all, Kristof usually writes columns that are depressing to read--they are about prostitution in Cambodia, or fistula in Congo, or the stoning of women in Pakistan, or ... Even he acknowledged that in his column with "You’re wondering what I’ve been smoking!"

I then tweeted about that column:
Soon, I was getting email updates about that tweet--all because Kristof had re-tweeted it.

That's how yesterday began.  I then went to the classroom to engage with students for two hours.  I came back and checked the news feed.  The day was no longer yet another day.

By then it was already the second of October in the old country.  It was the birth anniversary of Gandhi, who lived preaching and practicing non-violence.  But then his life, too, was ended by a bullet, as were the lives of the nine in a town a few miles south of where I live.

This too shall pass.  Many more will die unnatural and violent deaths.  We won't really care about them unless it happens to one of our own.  Such is life and such is human behavior!

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