Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fast food...fast compassion

I've noted on other blogs this morning that I've given up trying to make sense of the Virginia Tech shootings...because you can't make sense of the senseless....

But as I traveled around town yesterday afternoon and asked my companions as I met them if they had heard of the Virginia Tech shootings, I got a reply that stopped me in my tracks..it was something like, "Oh yeah, I heard. tsk, tsk, tsk...what's this world coming to?" And then they went on with the "business at hand".

I couldn't understand that. I STILL can't understand it.

As it turns out, I'm not alone.

In one of his most brilliant posts, The Rude Pundit takes note:


But that's not why the Rude Pundit paid attention at the rest stop. It was because, to him, it mattered. We're so filled with stories, local crimes and small incidents, celebrity lives and deaths, animal attacks and house fires, that it's hard to discern anymore when something really matters. For everyone that the Rude Pundit saw in that fast food dining area, it was more of the noise of information. They had places to be. They had cell phones and Blackberries and GPS systems, and all of that technology told them that their lives were more important, always more important, than the lives of others.


But mostly we are a dead-souled country, so inured to horror that even when something of incredible violence occurs on our soil, well, heck, we've been reminded of 9/11 so often that anything lesser hardly seems worthy of time in our Palm Pilots. For to pay attention means that we must feel compelled to act, and, as we've been taught by our government, our media, our culture, what good comes of acting?


But to act is anathemic to our war and terrorist-influenced American mindset. God, if we were told to just go about our business after 9/11 and that they only thing we can sacrifice for the war is our peace of mind when we happen to tune to the wrong channels on our digital cable systems, why in the world would we want to do anything for this?

Oh, yeah, there is something we'll be asked to do. Pray. To whomever. And then continue to eat your fried chicken strips and drink your Diet Cokes. After a while, not feeling in the mood for that cupcake, the Rude Pundit hit the road, too.

I remember an old Doonesbury cartoon that has stuck with me for many years now. The main characters were having a reunion of the old "New Frontier" group from the days of the John F. Kennedy Presidency. One of the characters asked the others, "Do you still remember all that stuff?" And one replies with this line from Kennedy's inaugural speech:

"The energy we bring to our endeavors will enkindle a flame, and the light from that flame will surely enlighten the world."

At the end of the quote the whole group breaks out laughing....and suddenly realize how cynical they have become...and "Mike Doonesbury" asks, " What's happened to us man?, What's happened?"

I can see clearly in my mind's eye the scene The Rude Pundit describes...and I ask myself,

"What's happened to us Man?"

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