Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Response to Tragedy: A Solipsistic Search for Meaning vs. Stoic compassion

Christopher Hitchens:Concerning the Virginia Tech killings and the response...

"The person being quoted is the Rev. Susan Verbrugge of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, addressing her congregation in an attempt, in the silly argot of the day, "to make sense of the senseless":

Ms. Verbrugge recounted breaking through the previous week's numbness as she stopped on a morning walk and found herself yelling at the mountains and at God. Though her shouts were initially met with silence, she said, she soon was reassured by the simplest of things, the chirping of birds.

"God was doing something about the world," she said. "Starting with my own heart, I could see good."

Yes, it's always about you, isn't it? (By the way, I'd watch that habit of yelling at mountains and God in the greater Blacksburg area if I were you. Some idiot might take it for a "warning sign.") When piffle like this gets respectful treatment from the media, we can guess that it's not because of the profundity of the emotion but rather because of its extreme shallowness. Those birds were singing just as loudly and just as sweetly when the bullets were finding their targets.

But the quest for greater "meaning" was unstoppable."

Solipsistic purpose and false sentiment that makes evil acts sacred-insult to injury. Yes to real solidarity that helps the victims and honors them and not the aggressors. Do not damn the victims of violence with an infusion of divine purpose that soothes and feeds egocentric narrow-minded solipsism. Stand with the victims do not damn their tragedy with false meaning or divine blessing. For example Christians who say God allowed the holocaust so that the jews would return to Palestine.
I believe it was Aristotle who stated that, luck is when the other person is getting hit with an arrow. This type of luck is a good description of the problem of human narcissism and the limits of human imagination due to self -preservation. face suffering head on and be wide awake and not filter it with false meaning that insults the victims.

During the sniper shootings a reporter was interviewing a woman who had just escaped a bullet but a man next to her had been hit. Her response to the reporter was filled with a euphoric joy and she stated that her God had saved her and led her not to be shot. Humans have a hard time encompassing the reality of all human experience and instead focus on their own immediate experience. This womans miracle was the other mans murder. Aristotles luck. A woman named Ashley Smith was under the thumb of a fugitive killer and she explains how her faith and a book called The Purpose-Driven Life helped save her and lead the fugitive to justice. This saved her life and now she has fame to go along with it. But about the same time there was a little nine year old girl named Jessica Lunsford who was being raped and murdered. She was buried in a shallow grave. One claims to be miraculously saved because of her faith and a book and the other is ruthlessly murdered. We know what Ashley is telling the media but what would Jessica tell us? What would she have to say about purpose? We do not know because she has no personal voice but Ashley does along with fame and a best selling book. Our altruism should be tamed with the knowledge that the dead have no voice.

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