TRAGEDY AND UNITY
By John Berry, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia
This past weekend many people across the world were focused on one thing (beyond the World Cup and Wimbledon). That was the rescue efforts taking place in Thailand where 12 teenage boys and their coach were trapped in a cave. An outpouring of prayers and support from many different parts of the globe were focused on one shared goal – getting the trapped free. On Sunday four of the boys were freed, leaving nine more people to get safely to the surface before the rains made further rescues much more difficult. Tragically, one rescuer lost his life in the days before the first four boys emerged. He was a retired diver who volunteered his skill experience to one end – to help others who could not help themselves.
The world came together, is together, and will remain together until all 13 of our fellow human beings are out of danger and reunited with family and love ones. We will be, for a time, one people united in one goal. But what then?
For far too many years it seems like we have been living in a social and political environment in this country that belies the fact that we do have the ability to come together in pursuit of shared goals and to support others who cannot support themselves. We have become so confrontational politically and so set in our views that we don’t even act like we understand what shared goals, the common good, and ONE nation mean anymore. It is not just that we want to win – it is that we demand that the other person lose! We can’t compromise because if we do the ‘other guy’ might get some credit. So, we discard their input, isolate ourselves on ‘our side’ of the issue and go full speed ahead; even if we crash right into a wall.
Why does it take tragedy and near tragedy to unite us? I think the reason is that we what tragedy does is strip us of our ego and our false bravado and make us face the fact that everyone of us is reliant on every other one of us for our life, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. We know that if we were trapped in a cave or facing some other potential tragic situation we would not want people debating the nuances and politics of our rescue – we would want them to just get us the heck out of there and who cares who gets the credit. We would want people to put petty differences aside and make sure the best ideas and most talented, experienced, and dedicated people were working to help us.
And you know what? I don’t think we would give a damn what color they were, what their sexual orientation was, what nation they were born in, whether they were liberal or conservative, whether they were rich or poor, what college they went to (if any), or any other disqualifier that we use every day to diminish people and justify our own discrimination and prejudice against each other.
Let’s start acting like we would if we were facing a tragedy; because we just might be.