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There is no moral to a massacre

In any given week many horrible things happen. Some are truly horrific, like the Charlie Hebdo Massacre and the others are disturbing, like the bombing at the NAACP in Colorado (luckily no deaths). At times, I will write about current events. But I often hesitate. There is so much out there about the massacre, and I do not know enough about it yet. I think about the massacre and what it might provoke. I think about what a bombing at the NAACP might mean. And I am frightened. The world is frightening. But I not ready to say I know what either of these events mean.

Whether it is commentators on the Diane Rehm Show or chatter around people’s FB posts, everyone has an opinion, especially about the Charlie Hebdo Massacre. It is easy to think that there is a moral to be found, a lesson to be learned. Sometimes, I wish we remembered that the news is not a story. While we can learn things about the world from this week’s horrible events, maybe we could wait a week or two before pronouncing that we know what it means, that “all reasonable people will think x, y and z” about these particular events.

I sometimes think we leap to the lesson, that we try to pin down the moral, because we cannot stand the pain and the uncertainty. We try to soothe ourselves by shoving the sharp edged emotional mass, our messy confusion about a complicated world, into rigid intellectual or philosophical or religious containers. We use our ideologies (we all are bound by them) to try to contain the uncontainable.

here are things that need to be done immediately after a tragedy (like chasing the culprits or helping the victims). There are things we will need to understand about this week’s events. I am not against in depth analysis; in fact, I prefer in depth analysis, but I do not believe that valuable analysis can happen immediately after a tragic or a worrisome event. And there are parts of this week’s events that will never make sense. We need space for feeling and being, not just sense and meaning. I wish we waited at least a few days before trying to sort it out. I dream of a world in which after stating the facts of a horrible event, the news didn’t leap to the lesson, that the commentators did not immediately tell us what we should think or believe.

In response to this week’s events, I mourn. I am angry and worried. And I am frightened. I do not yet know what to think. I chose to give myself time to not know, to not proclaim, to be uncertain. I hope you, all my faithful and faithless followers, give yourselves time to not know.

Whatever lessons we end up learning will not fit tidily into a box. There is no moral to a massacre.

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