A suicide bomber killed at least 52 people, including many women and children, at a public park in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sunday, according to government officials and police.
The blast occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, a few feet away from children’s swings. Around 150 people were injured in the explosion, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. Pakistan has been plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs, and sectarian violence. Punjab, where Lahore is located, is its biggest and wealthiest province.
This is probably a more concise and focused takedown of the “tragedy hipster” mentality than I’m about to deliver. In case you’re pressed for time.
Is there racism at work in the disproportionate amount of attention given to tragedies involving white people?
Is there laziness, bias, stupidity, myopia?
Should we be thinking, always, about the weight of every life, and putting ourselves in others’ shoes?
Is any of that solved by yelling at your cousin on Facebook (or posting passive-aggressive shaming articles about how “we” don’t give enough of a shit about X part of the world) after he changes his profile picture to the color of the Belgian flag for a day or something?
Not really. It’s just changing the flavor of the narcissism to “Look at me, with my bigger understanding of the world than yours! How dare you be so small, when I am capable of being bigger!”
Here’s the thing. Of course people tend to focus on things they have personally experienced. Places they’ve been. Lives in which they can see themselves. That’s not a sign of anything but being human, and I’m not all that interested in tallying up the instances of “prayers up!” on Facebook and Twitter as the ultimate measure of whether we have a racist society.
Of course we do. We always have.
And it’s not letting us one iota off the hook for that, to say that using a tragedy to shame people for caring about another tragedy is the worst kind of jerking off and advances us not one bit. It ignores where we are, and how we react, as goddamn ordinary people. If you don’t start from where you are, if you don’t start from how the world works right now, you’ll never be able to move.
We all break the world apart in little bits and care about it that way, because it’s too much to try to swallow, the whole thing at once. It would choke you, if you loved it all. The only thing we call that capacity for compassion, ever, is God, because we cannot imagine anything else big enough for it. That’s where we are: with us and ours.
Growing from there, drawing the circle wider and wider, doesn’t come from stamping out the first impulse toward kindness and generosity because it’s not big enough. I don’t think anyone, caring about anything bigger than themselves in a way that’s unselfish enough to make even a tiny gesture, deserves to be slapped down. So long as they’re not making out like they’re one of the oppressed because they switched their blog’s font color, their status change hurts no one.
This has been a miserable, cold, dark, punishing year for a lot a lot a lot of people, and especially here in America, kindness is in pretty damn short supply. We have had two entire presidential campaigns and are about to have a third concentrating entirely on how mean we should be to poor people and immigrants. We DO have a profoundly racist society, and we ARE entirely too ignorant of things outside our own experience. For a lot of people I know Europe might as well be the moon, for all the chance they’ll have to get there, so while we’re raising people’s consciousnesses miles up, let’s try not to scream at them every inch.
Now, if you want to do something to help the victims of today’s attack, here’s an idea.