Tragedies don’t make sense. They are an assault on how we expect the world and our lives to unfold and they don’t make exceptions or play favourites.
Take the most recent mass killing in Newtown Connecticut that left 28 people dead, 20 of them under the age of 7, as an example. This event is a tragedy not because we don’t understand how it happened, but because we don’t understand why it happened.
We do understand, at least in part, how this happened. It happened because gun-control regulations in the U.S. are much too loose, giving individuals far too much power to commit horrendous acts of violence.
It happened because society has exalted the individual and lost the community in the process. If an individual loses the relationships that gives him or her perspective, what then will prevent this isolated individual from becoming cold-hearted to those around him or her?
It happened because technology has given individuals unprecedented power over nature and over other individuals. When technologies like guns or weapons are made available to individuals who become detached from their surroundings and cannot handle the power of such technology, violent tragedies will no doubt occur.
It happened because the media often sensationalizes these tragedies so that a detached individual who has lost any sense of purpose feels a sense of power, which is understood as violence, over others.
Ultimately, it happened because we are broken people who have lost a common understanding of what makes sense. Policy, individualism, technology, and sensationalism are only a few factors that have led to the fracturing of common sense in today’s world. This fracturing does not create tragedies, but it allows tragedies such as the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to occur at an increasingly alarming rate.
What then can one say about these tragedies that simply do not make sense? Can we speak sense into the senseless?
It would be wrong to impose meaning or purpose on such events. To do so would deny the senselessness of the tragedy.
But, it would also be wrong to say that such senseless tragedies do away with the possibility of a sensible world. For, the thinking goes, how can there be meaning or purpose in a world that is so full of evil and pain? This concern is real and should not be taken lightly.
However, the overwhelming response to tragedies like the Newton shooting makes it clear that even if the world does not always give us much reason to believe that the world makes sense, we still know that it should lipitor 40 mg. We know that our kids should be able to grow up, to finish school, to discover what they love and to discover who they love. We know that innocent lives should not be taken and that there should be justice for those who are wronged. We know, intrinsically, that the world and our lives should make sense, because when it doesn’t, we know something is not right.
The fact that tragedies do not make sense implies that there are things that do make sense. For if the world at its core did not make sense, if there was no purpose, no meaning, or no significance, then our yearning for something sensible, something just, and something that answers our questions would just be another clanging gong in a universe of clanging gongs. But our senses don’t allow this. Our common sense – the sense that there is meaning in the world, that evil should not prevail over good, and that we are all in some way common – does not allow us to be satisfied with a world that simply does not make sense.
Now, here’s hoping that our common sense can do something for the common good.