Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What about the "non-events"

In the wake of the violence, let us take notice but not forget the “non-events”…

A mass shooting in Arizona, a suicide in Vermont, an accidental shooting in a Los Angeles High school. Should we be afraid? Yes. Should we tie all of these events together? Depending on your views of gun control, yes you should. But if you fear for your life, remind yourself, that for every event like these there are millions of “non-events” every day. Congressional representatives are in public every day and do not get shot. People frequent grocery stores and pharmacies and do not get shot. Our children go to school all across the nation and do not take their own lives. Our schools have millions of children who do not bring guns. The point? A psychological first aid message: When tragedies like this happen, we are so compelled, so drawn in, and so engaged that we begin to weave them together. We also put their horrific salience in front of all the other “non-events”. We should be scared, we should be concerned but we should also remind ourselves that every day, every minute there are millions and millions of “non-events”. We cope with these tragedies not by discounting them or denying them, but by putting them in perspective. They are a horrible reality of our lives. They are a reminder of what can go wrong in society, but they do not define our society.

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