“Things have changed forever.”
We heard this after the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed. We heard it after the Virginia Tech massacre. We heard it after the Cinemark massacre. On Monday there was a bombing in Boston, and we are hearing it again.
It isn’t true. We have had bombings and tragedies before, and we will have them again. We pick up the pieces, comfort the survivors, and we move on. Nothing has changed. None of this is new. Some of the worse bombings in US history were in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The worst school massacre in US history was almost 100 years ago, using a bomb. “Things have changed forever” is nonsense. It’s delusional, in fact. Yes, bad things happen, but there is nothing anyone can do to prevent them. Fortunately, bad things of this particular nature are extremely rare. So why do we pay disproportionate attention to them?
A few people die in an explosion, and that’s major national news, but around 100 people die in car crashes the same day, and that’s barely mentioned in local news, if it’s mentioned at all. And 100 more die the next day. And the next. One-fifth of those 100 daily dead are children. No press conference are held where a sad but resolute politician vows to find those responsible. No “town halls” are gathered where politicians with private chauffeurs insist that we must place “reasonable restrictions” on car ownership.
We ignore a pile of bodies that accumulates like clockwork every single day, but we wail and gnash our teeth at rare and impossible-to-prevent tragedies and vow to implement “solutions” which have absolutely no chance of doing anything to prevent the next rare and isolated tragedy. Our reaction to these things is exactly backward.
More importantly, it isn’t true because the people who commit these crimes are not the norm. We are — the normal, peaceful people who want to live our lives in peace without being robbed, murdered, blown up, violated, spied on, or detained indefinitely. As Patton Oswalt said recently, “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’ “