Every single day of our lives, we wake up with the expectation that our feet will touch the floor, that our hair will be a mess, that we’ll have to hurry and eat our breakfasts if we want to get to our jobs and our classes and our interviews on time. We check our mail and frown at the bills. We start our cars just to realize that we’re nearly out of gas again, and we aren’t incredibly surprised. Life is built by the mundane. We expect it.
And maybe that’s why we are consistently caught off guard when that red banner bleeds across our computers and our televisions and our phones, when “BREAKING NEWS” pounds a lump into our throats, when something huge has happened and everything’s still a blur and we know it’s bad but we don’t know just how bad. When misery screams and the pain on the face of a stranger is a chilling reflection.
None of us expect to wake up to a tragedy.
All of us, however, have fallen into a distinct habit of reaction.
We spout off overused responses in an attempt to sound sincere and sympathetic — my thoughts and prayers are with those affected; this world is so awful. We say we’re praying when, really, we’re paralyzed, void of comprehension. We say our thoughts are with the victims when, really, our thoughts are with the perpetrator: why would someone do this? We trump the word “terrorism” as if it only exists outside of our homes and our country, some distant, senseless thing that swoops in to rattle us and our state of mundane. We vow justice as if we can wholly deliver such a thing. We talk about those who are “affected” as if they’ve got some disease we haven’t caught yet.
I hate how we say that as if we aren’t affected merely by being a human being, too.