Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Not Even at the Gates of Hell

Following such a terrible tragedy in the news as the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday, it is the natural and appropriate response, for those of us even yet far removed from the scene, to take stock of our own lives and reflect, each of us, on who we are. Am I the person I should be? Were it all to end today, would I have any regrets over how I lived? What was I doing that very moment the news broke? I don't need a keen memory to know the answer to that last one; it's all recorded on Facebook:


I was making some dumb joke. Not even a joke, really, but more just a mock-bitter articulated sigh brought on by "the Mondays," and, in the manner of a diary entry with no context, of no likely use or amusement to anyone other than myself.

In any case, less than an hour after my status update, a friend posted an update expressing their shock and sadness over the Boston Marathon explosions. The next several minutes saw more friends posting about the incident—thoughts to the victims, calls for prayers, worrying about loved ones in the area, broken hearts and frowning emoticons. My news feed that day was a steady stream of solemn status updates from friends about the explosions. And then there was my thing mixed in among it all, which suddenly seemed in poor taste—like wearing flashy colors to a funeral.

Was it unfortunate, regrettable that I had said it on that particular day? Probably. There are at least two possible lessons to take from this:

1) The remark did not become in poor taste by its coinciding with a terrible tragedy. It simply was in poor taste, period. If it took it coinciding with a terrible tragedy to get me to realize that it was bad, then perhaps, in the future, I should simply proceed as though every moment coincided with a terrible tragedy, and take care accordingly to always avoid saying anything that might be in poor taste.


2) Recognize that every day of my life is a dumb joke, and so is Facebook. Also, some terrible tragedy is happening somewhere every day. The only way to avoid saying anything that might be in poor taste is to avoid saying anything at all. But that would not make me a better person but only perhaps a marginally more pleasant one. And any time we compromise out of fear, or desire for comfort, the enemy wins (or, at least, we lose).

So, was my dumb joke poorly timed and regrettable? Maybe. Even so, I take back nothing, and I can pretty well promise you this won't be the last time.

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