Saturday, April 20, 2013

Overlapping Ripples

A dead boy and a terror suspect
When a major news event happens, especially one which tears so determinedly into the fabric of our consciousness, we insist on trying to make sense of things and the media tidal wave is often speculative, disproportionate and incorrect. Social media sites have been inundated with grainy photos, half-cooked ideas, sleuthing and speculation which has had the effect of muddying waters already turbulent with passion, casting suspicion on innocent people and providing information that turned out to be nothing more than rumour. I have never really understood why even the professionals like, indeed insist on offering opinion which is so lean and ill-informed unless its only function is to tickle readers' ears so that they will maintain focus long enough to stay with the story. The horrifying events surrounding the finish line at the Boston marathon took time to unravel and will continue to do so. "Shoot-out, man-hunt, lock-down" are all emotive words, rich in speculative meaning and the two young Chechens apparently at the centre of this tragedy have provided the media with a circus of such phrases. SWAT teams, sharpshoooters and FBI agents have surrounded buildings, police helicopters buzzed overhead and armoured vehicles rumbled menacingly through the deserted streets. But, as yet, although the dust has cleared somewhat and the facts have been established, so little is known about the perpetrators, their motivations or aspirations. They seem not to have been radicalised and if they have, they have been well trained to conceal it. Superficially, they appeared to be two comparatively successful young men trying to make their way in the Land of the Free. Every titbit of information, every scrap of rumour is being mined for meaning. As is so often the case, the truth may never fully emerge. The older brother is dead and the younger, quite possibly the follower, is unlikely to be able to offer coherent and reliable testimony for some time.
Like most people, I find unexplained tragedy difficult to deal with. We share the collective grief, vicariously, as events have unfolded in all their gritty, unpalatable detail. Perhaps we are all  part of the collective, the unconscious ripple of worldwide sympathy that the media reveals to us and to which we respond.
Living in the countryside and thinking in parallel, I have just acquired a dog. I haven't owned one for some years - my last was killed in a road accident which was partly my fault and I made a mental note to myself that I wasn't really to be trusted to have another one. Her presence has dislocated my surroundings. She too has become part of my collective, with her own particular flavour of need and aspiration which I am becoming forced to acknowledge and make room for. Her ripple of existence is impacting my own. And yet, she belongs in the world as much as I do and I find myself with a strange, non-specific duty of care which at present, I cannot explain. I found myself extrapolating from awareness of my own species to a realisation of the deep and impenetrable connectedness of things. Two ducks were chasing each other across the river, one a male the other a female, the one intent on impregnating the other. Thickenings in the new-formed spring tree-growth indicate nest-building. I make no comment on the relative magnitude of the ripples, simply remark that I am a part of this, as is my dog, as are the grief-stricken in Boston and faraway Chechnya.

2 comments:

  1. The dark side of social media is never so obvious as during a crisis or tragedy. We humans have a penchant for voyeurism. Fortunately, we also have the capacity to rise to the occasion. There are many stories of horror and heroism from every drama. The trick is to know which is which ...and I guess that would depend on the light in one's own soul.

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