Post Traumatic Guilt Trips

The whole etiquette surrounding disasters and tragedies is on the one hand loving and appropriate, but on another incredibly hypocritical and alarming. And I find myself often stuck in the middle, confused about what is most important and how much we are going to concede for the sake of being polite or empathetic.

It’s true that nearly immediately, there are those who offer condolences, thoughts, and prayers. There are those who immediately offer assistance. And God bless those who give of themselves to help others. Seriously. We need caring and empathetic people to step in and comfort those who are mourning, hurt, and lost. Desperately. We need it all the time and not just in tragic times.

There are those who immediately start in on conspiracy theories, political solutions, and/or political threats. Our President nearly always makes it political immediately through some sad but emphatic speech, but unfortunately if we react to it, we’ve crossed the line into insensitivity. Just like that. It’s a nice trick, and it’s worked over and over again. But if we allow this sort of guilt-tripping manipulation to control our consciences, we’re in for a world of hurt yet. Because defending liberty in the midst of an attack is as desperately important as tending to those in need. Why? Because our forefathers bled and died for that liberty. It’s the stuff of wars, and it deserves our respect and attention in the midst of pain. And we cannot allow ourselves to be scared or emotionally manipulated out of it in moments of desperation.

There are those (most of us, if we’re honest), who don’t show a second of agony over deaths in another country due to our own country’s meddling many times. Those who are so accustomed to soldiers in body bags. Those who are so settled with infanticide on a wide scale. But it’s close to home that scares us or stirs up empathy, because it could be us. It’s close to home when we become offended about people moving on to other conversations or having a political conversation right after many people have been injured or killed. How can you talk about politics when people are hurting?

It’s hypocrisy that mourns over 20 children being shot but glosses over the 20 who were stabbed last night in another city. The bombs in our comfortable US cities but not the bombs in other countries we don’t care about. People are people and life is life. But unfortunately, we follow the tone of our media. We care about what they tell us to care about. And it’s not right. That, and we still believe there are safe places.

In the midst of tragedies on our own soil, we’re told now is not the time to discuss. But in the midst of tragedies on our own soil, if we do not discuss, if we only act, we are open to too much. We are easily manipulated when we’re hurting. We are easily manipulated when we see and feel pain, when we wonder why and how it could have been prevented.

Something has to change, because it has to be okay to think and ask questions even in tough times. It has to be okay to be reasonable through pain. If we concede here, we concede too much.

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Beka Johnson
Beka Johnson
Beka is an inbound marketer for a tech startup in the Seattle area. She loves dabbling, reading, scheming, writing, and dreaming up ways to make good things better. When she's not working, you can find her digging up all sorts of adventures in her new city.
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