OPINION: How to (not) deal with tragedies

Brittany Nelson

Let me preface this by saying what happened in Boston was a tragedy, a horrible circumstance that no one should ever have to go through and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those affected. However, any time an unexpected tragedy happens in America, following the initial, heartwarming response, the next step is to blame, hate, and act out of fear.

1) Fear. And it’s the kind of fear that makes unnecessary changes. While if we can prevent something, we should try, implementing groping at the airport or lanyards at a school may make you feel safer, but ultimately will not do much to stop much of anything. If someone wants to walk into a school acting like a normal student, they could. If Boston and Sandy Hook and Colorado taught us anything, it’s that these things could happen at anytime. We need to get our act together. Don’t worry about feelings when it comes to safety. These prevention methods we’ve been executing are just temporary solutions that may temporarily comfort a select group of people. If someone really wanted to do something, they’d find a way around it.

2) Hatred. America responds with hatred, often going hand-in-hand with fear. Finding the responsible parties to a crime is great and, leading into the next point, blaming an entire group of people (pro-gun, anti-gun, Muslims, Illuminati) does nothing but perpetuate negative stereotypes while completely avoiding more important issues. We are virtually denying other possible factors by just being angry. This happened in America? No, we have things, laws, codes, safety measures, something that could have prevented this. Who messed up? This was someone’s fault, somewhere. They deserve the same fate! Possible even the death penalty! Why do they always want to hurt us? We can’t go anywhere and feel safe anymore, isn’t that, like, a guarantee in the constitution somewhere? The face of a terrorist aren’t brown, yellow, or white. They don’t wear signs or turbans or masks.

3) News coverage. The people who run the news are just that, people. When CNN and Fox falsely announced the police had arrested someone in the bombings, they were just feeding into the fears and insecurities of the American people. We rely on our news sources to be accurate, reliable and timely; none of those should be without the others, they should go hand-in-hand. All you will find after a tragedy from most news sources only makes things worse, many speculations and misleading information as if they were just gossiping on the streets like the rest of us. We need to call out the media when they mess up and hold them accountable.

4) Hypocrisy. Much like guilt by association, we forget how badly we’ve been to others. Not so much as throwing bombs at them (though it happens), but ignoring their plights and their Sandy Hooks and Boston Marathons. A Muslim man came and said a prayer following the shooting at Sandy Hook, but we should be scared to sit by them on the plane because only Muslims and mentally ill people want to attack America. How many people are aware of what’s happened in Venezuela not too long ago? Did you know that the nation is divided among support and opposition to Chavez’ successor and that they gave the supporters called oficialists guns so they can ‘fight for their country’? Or Turkey? Similar to our own #occupy protests, what began as an environmentalist issue is now turning into an anti-government issue. Again, I’m not saying you have to be up-to-date with every incident of injustice around the world, but there’s a difference between patriotism and extreme nationalism.

4) More fear. We may never know why things like this happen, and we need to deal with that. The actions of two individuals isn’t going to dictate the way I live, and it shouldn’t for anyone else either. That means we shouldn’t stay cooped up in our houses or underground apocalypse bunkers until we get the all-clear. Bad things will continue to happen and, while we should focus on prevention methods, it’s going to go a lot deeper than a bomb-checker at every marathon or metal detectors in schools. Are we just supposed to wait for the next incident to say, ‘Well, that could have been prevented by doing (this),’?

Again, what happened in Boston is not okay. You can’t justify what happened. When I saw those photos and the videos, I couldn’t imagine. I just couldn’t. But what followed made me almost as disappointed. The way the media and the people treat this is wrong. We want a quick fix; we want to blame two Russian men yet we ignore similar travesties that happened every day during the Iraq war, but broadcast photo after photo, video after video when it happens here (not that photos and videos aren’t an important part of a news package, I just believe in fairness). Yes, most of us will go back into our day-to-day routines, sympathetically nodding over the events that happened on April 15, but there are some people whose lives have been forever changed. Try telling them it could have been prevented, plaster the name and face of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaevbehind over every station every news hour so they can’t get away from it, because that’s exactly what they need right now, right?