Yesterday afternoon my constant companion and owner of my attention, time, and eyes (my iPhone) alerted me to situation at a near-by department store; the name of which I won’t advertise here. It seems someone forgot their backpack full of explosives when they left the store. There was also a note left nearby, leading authorities to theorize it may be a threatening letter. Perhaps the envelope held some type of clue as to who might be responsible for the backpack and it’s scary exposed wires. As it turned out, it WAS a threatening letter. It was not related to the bomb in any way, though. It was a wholly separate attempt by someone specific to strike fear in the heart of another specific someone, as opposed to random potential victims of the bomb.
In the end, the police bomb squad was able to come in and remove the device and no one was hurt. At least not by the bomb. No word yet about the letter’s intended recipient. Still, mission accomplished all around. A group of people were, however briefly, in fear for their lives. Even without any casualties, that’s how terrorism works. That’s what it’s for.
The part of all this I find most disturbing is how little shock or fear I personally felt. Granted, I was not in the store, but a suitcase nuke detonated in that store would definitely have an impact on my home, just a few miles away. Still, I felt nothing.
When I relayed this story to my family, my mother (naturally) said how awful it was and how relieved she was that no one was hurt. I told her that I was disturbed by my own lack of reaction. I said I didn’t think I would have felt any differently had I heard about another school shooting or another theatre shooting, so desensitized to random violence have I become.
Here we are, less than twenty-four hours later, and I am writing this just after having heard about an assault on a theatre in Tennessee, where the (now dead) attacker used not only a firearm but a hatchet (that’s not a misprint, he actually used a fucking hatchet…AND pepper-spray) to attempt to kill innocent people. Fortunately, police responded quickly and the assailant was killed trading gunfire with police before he was able to cause more than a superficial wound to an unfortunate victim.
It doesn’t matter that these incidents caused no deaths, because it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. The fact that we hear about an attack of one kind or another every day should not matter. We SHOULD be appalled and horrified by these things, but we aren’t.
This, to me, signifies the beginning of the end for us. When we no longer feel anything when we hear about evil men trying to kill innocent people, let alone when these attempts are successful, it means we have already lost the part of ourselves that matters. We have lost the ability to empathize with our fellow man and the suffering inflicted upon others no longer hurts our hearts. What is left of our souls, if such things exists? If having souls is what makes us ‘human’, then what are we now? What are we becoming? Animals? What an insult to animals.