Knee-jerk reactions

The knee-jerk reactions from yesterday seem to be starting to wear off. The media seem to be willing to contemplate the victims themselves now, their friends and relatives, and the ongoing rescue efforts. There are even a few rational voices calling for restraint, and for the crime to be investigated before taking blind revenge.

I feel sad and depressed, like a great weight is pulling me down. And I feel guilty for feeling like that, because I haven’t lost anyone. What right do I have to claim sadness? How do I, sound of limb, with my family intact, dare try to own a tiny piece of this disaster, when tens of thousands of people have just had their whole lives shattered?

It is this feeling, and these questions, that depress me even more. Because I realize that politicians, the media, and other people “in power” are trying to claim this tragedy as their own. They are determining that it is their responsibility to take action against the perpetrators.

A parent who loves his children, or a friend who loves those who are close to him, wants to retaliate against anyone who hurts them. I know this feeling. But it stems from close, personal friendship and love.

Politicians want to step into this same role. They want to be the “protectors” of their constitients. They want to act as parents to a city, or a nation. But with a very few exceptions, I do not believe that they do this out of love or concern for the people they purport to serve. They do it to enhance and maintain their own positions of power.

The politicians don’t care. The media don’t care. The capitalist bosses don’t care. Yet they all pretend to care, because that is how they cement their own positions. They need to fool us into giving them our collective trust.

The only thing that really matters is the people you love, and interactions you have on a personal level. A president, prime minister, or king can’t care about millions of people. It’s not humanly possible.

My own participation in Western capitalist society depresses and angers me. Humans are selfish. I am selfish. I am too attached to my own comforts, and this attachment binds me to those forces I have just reviled.

One’s own morality only stands up to so much scrutiny before breaking down. The only way to continue to think of yourself as a moral person is to turn a blind eye to things you know would be wrong if you examined them closely enough.

As I write this, I find myself spiralling down into even more unhappiness and depression. I can’t try to comprehend all the evils of the world at once. The simple thought of losing anyone close to me is enough to make me cry for everyone who has lost a loved one in this disaster.

It seems inconceivable that life should go on after yesterday. But somehow, it must. It always does.

(Abi has a more hopeful view of humanity than I do.)