Maybe I’m lucky to be in a different time zone. It spares me the live images, with their confusion and the dumbstruck expressions on broadcasters faces who can’t comprehend yet the significance of what they are saying.
Most of the time, by the time the news gets to me there are neat compartments of numbers and the pictures have been edited from the original raw and graphic images.
Every day for as long as I can remember, the nightly news has been filled with smoke and fire and crying parents carrying their lifeless babies. Far away, exotic names accompanied those reports: Lebanon, Israel, Somalia.
Then there was Oklahoma City and New York. But those places were at least a day’s drive away and a million light years from my self obsessed teenage mind.
The bombing in Atlanta at the Olympics we thought at the time was a homegrown crazy and more of an embarrassment than a travesty.
But then 9/11 happened.
And the world changed.
I was in Japan by then, and I felt like a chasm was opening between me and my fellow countrymen. The spin on the news was different here. It left me sad, but not bloodthirsty.
Having the Internet at home and access to more American TV has gone a long way to close that gap, though. I no longer feel completely strange and out of place at “home,” like the missionary couple who spent thirty-five years in Nigeria, then retired to their hometown (my town,) only to be viewed with suspicion by all the hometown folks for having had a)the gall to leave and b)the nerve to come back.
And that brings us to today.
Being a parent, perhaps inevitably, changes your worldview. Danger lurks in every shadow on every corner.
But these are corners and shadows I walked with my children a few months ago. These are corners and shadows where we laughed and skipped and searched for the ghost of Ben Franklin. These are corners and shadows that don’t feel exotic or far away. And that makes it different somehow.
I have to send out a universal shoulder shrug and a “Wtf, people?” Because I don’t get it. How does hurting others, who have no connection or responsibility to whatever cause it is you are trying to promote, do anything other than hinder that cause?