This past week, I am hardly alone in being touched deeply by the tragic events in New England. How can you not be? The senseless, violent death of so much innocence.
However, it brings to mind a very different picture. Let me take a step back to the 1968, to the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam. Until that time, the Viet Nam war was not a full presence in American living rooms, but it was from that point forward. Night after night after night, the carnage would be shown on American television screens. It mobilized many people, but it also did something else. The war violence, the body count, became so commonplace, that seeing it on TV in the evening eventually didn't raise an eyebrow. It just was a part of life, like breakfast and basketball.
This has happened to us again and the response to this tragedy makes it stand out in sharp relief. Every night, those of us who live near urban environs see the body count. This time, it is isn't in Viet Nam or Iraq or Afghanistan, it is on our own streets. It is the death of mothers' children, the termination of futures never given a real chance to take hold. And, as with Viet Nam, we simply look to see what else is on the news. It is just more gang violence, after all.
The mothers hurt no less. The families and friends are no less bereft. It is no less tragic.
We need to find a way to be outraged at the loss as we should be. We need to allow ourselves to be touched. Maybe it will motivate us to help things change. We eventually rejected the Viet Nam war. We need to reject the street war. We need to feel again.