It’s been a rough week for America. Terrorism, explosions and an inept Washington all fueling a sense of despair in the country. With the corporate owned mainstream media once again spitting on the time honored profession of journalism, more concerned with being the first to break a story by seconds than with getting it accurate, one needs to turn to sometimes more credible sources to get a better sense of things. Of course I’m referring to The Onion.
WASHINGTON—Calling the last four days of American life just…I mean, talk about a goddamned punch in the gut, citizens across the nation confirmed today that, Jesus, this week.
This fucking week, sources added.
“Seriously, can we wrap this up already?” Maryland resident James Alderman told reporters, echoing the thoughts of all 311 million Americans, who have just about reached their weekly goddamned quota for carnage, misery, confusion, heartbreak, and rage. “Because, you know, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our hearts ripped out of our chests and stomped on enough times for one seven-day period, thank you very much.” [ theonion.com ]
Twin bombs set off at the Boston Marathon, a devastating explosion in a fertilizer plant in Texas, ricin laced mail sent to the President and a Senator, a policeman shot dead at MIT, and the failure of our senate to pass even the most watered down of gun legislation regarding the registration of firearm sales.
President Obama’s Reaction On Gun Control Legislation Fail
Explosion At Fertilizer Plant Outside Waco Texas
Almost certainly you’ve seen the above video before. It’s shocking. Rarely do we witness such a personal experience in regards to such a blast. Recent reports indicate at least 15 fatalities, including 10 first responders, with many more wounded, have resulted from this explosion. Many people have observed that the public reaction to this event is not as strong as to the twin bombings in Boston.
Why is this?
Sam Harris, a neuroscientist who has recently been outspoken on the subject of the illusion of free will, has an interesting metaphor that may shed some understanding on this.
Imagine that you are enjoying your last nap of the summer, perhaps outside in a hammock somewhere, and are awakened by an unfamiliar sound. You open your eyes to the sight of a large bear charging at you across the lawn. It should be easy enough to understand that you have a problem. If we swap this bear for a large man holding a butcher knife, the problem changes in a few interesting ways, but the sudden appearance of free will in the brain of your attacker is not among them.
Should you survive this ordeal, your subsequent experience is liable to depend—far too much, in my view—on the species of your attacker. Imagine the difference between seeing the man who almost killed you on the witness stand and seeing the bear romping at the zoo. If you are like many victims, you might be overcome in the first instance by feelings of rage and hatred so intense as to constitute a further trauma. You might spend years fantasizing about the man’s death. But it seems certain that your experience at the zoo would be altogether different. You might even bring friends and family just for the fun of it: “That’s the beast that almost killed me!” Which state of mind would you prefer—seething hatred or triumphant feelings of good luck and amazement? The conviction that a human assailant could have done otherwise, while a bear could not, would seem to account for much of the difference. [ Samharris.org ]
Right now we do not have evidence that the circumstances at the fertilizer plant were a terrorist attack, where with the bombings in Boston, there was instantly no doubt that it was an act of terror with zero chance of it being an accident. This strongly impacts our psychology, right or wrong, it’s how our brains are hardwired.
Living Day To Day In The Wake of Terror
It’s easy to despair when we’re bombarded with this much bad news in a short space of time, but take a moment to look out your window at night and listen carefully. Most likely you’ll hear crickets chirping and see a relative stillness about your neighborhood. Sure, the ever present threat of war with North Korea, or even Iran sometime down the track looms, but the world has always been chaotic and violent and difficult to make sense of. But despite the last week, statistically speaking, you’re still more likely to get hit by a bolt of lightening than die in a fertilizer plant explosion or be a victim of a terrorist attack.
Perhaps it would be wiser for me to leave you with Bill Hicks. He always cheers me up and puts things in perspective.