Saturday, June 06, 2015

Tradegy Plus Time Plus American Equals Real Tragedy

The death of any one is a tragedy. There is always some way or someone who has a connection that will spend the rest of their lives coping or mourning the moment of that passing. Sometimes it is the sheer number that makes an event even more terrible. Thousands die in an earthquake in Nepal and the world reacts. The challenge being that those who died are strangers, too many to be remembered as one face or one name. They become a statistic, like the death toll on our nation's highways during three day weekends. Somewhere, however, that number translates into a missing plate at the table. A name scratched off the Christmas card list. An empty bedroom that has to be walked past daily until moving to a smaller place is the only option.
This is how we grieve. It makes sense that we do it in the most personal way possible. We light a candle. We say a prayer. We hang a wreath. We pour a bit of our 40 on the ground. We tag off on the departed, but rarely do we do so en masse. Unless you're Obi Won Kenobi, that's not how we feel things. We mourn up close and personal.
That may be why, in the midst of all the death and destruction in Nepal, we chose to highlight the story of Chris Norgren, a U.S. Marine helicopter pilot who went missing along with his crew during a rescue mission there. Knowing that a guy from Wichita, Kansas had gone missing amid the ruins of Charikot makes it all so real. Real personal. Assistant coach at Bishop Carroll High School close. And now we have a face for the tragedy. An American face.
This thought came to me not as a result of the coverage of the earthquake. It came via the side door, another story about a horrible death: A lion mauled a tourist at an animal park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Why should I care? Because the headline informed me that it was an American tourist. This was the third attack in the past four months at this park, so why are we just hearing about it now? At the end of March it was an Austrailian, as well as the beginning of April when a thirteen-year-old local boy was gnawed on by a cheetah, wild animals have not been working and playing with humans. This past week, somebody died. Katherine Chappell. An American.
Now that's a tragedy.

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