What the history books will say about us
I'm no longer surprised when I read about a mass shooting or terrorist attack over my morning coffee. Angry? Yes. Disgusted? Yes. Scared? Yes. But surprised? No.
I doubt any one of us is now. One of the unfortunate results of globalization and the rise of the media is that it becomes all too easy to become desensitized to the horrors around us. Don't get me wrong: I am glad that we are informed. We should be. We need to be. Plugging our ears or feigning ignorance about injustice does not make it go away. Nor does criticizing the media for furthering their agendas by reporting on certain kinds of stories. Such may be the case, yes, but that does not make the events less real. Yet the flip side is that we become immune to feeling pain (and, a truly terrible but rare downside is that the spread of information inspires others to commit similar horrible acts--but I do hold that media does not cause any subsequent acts. The impulses were always already there.)
I wonder what our neighbors on the other side of the globe are saying about us right now. We have our own ideas about democracy and gender equality, and we can easily feel smug when we hear about "moral" crimes that run so counter to our Western ethos. What is happening over there is awful. But so is what is happening over here. We don't have it figured out either.
Next time I read about the Spanish Inquisition or Napoleon or Auschwitz, I will lament their tragedies. I will also feel one step less removed from their stories, their "questionable" morals, their flawed logic, and their unjust societies because we will be the next chapter in the history book.
I do not know what is coming, but I do know that fear never accomplished anything in history. Nor is it a part of my faith. What I do know is that listening to those we do not understand takes us far. When someone you agree with says something, scrutinize the content hard and with a critical eye. When someone you do not agree with says something, listen harder and be curious. And when something is not right, speak up.