Tragedy strikes when ever and where ever it wants. There is noting we can do about that. If there is one thing I have learned in managing my symptoms of PTSD, it is that triggers of those symptoms are somewhat unpredictable and without a doubt unavoidable.
The really confounding thing about tragedy and trauma is that some are accidents – they happen without the ill intent of any one person. But some, without a doubt are deliberate. Tragedy caused by intentional planning, with the intent to instill fear, manipulate and control a culture is the very definition of terrorism.
I saw both of these unfold today.
As I was traveling through Tulsa, OK I stopped at a used tire store to have a new tire put on my spare rim. While the owner of the shop and I were looking at my spare, an SUV pulled into the parking lot and started to back up to an open garage bay. Without warning the vehicle shot backwards, hit the wall on the side of the garage door and pinned one of the store employees between the car and stacks of tires. As the car pulled away, it became clear that the legs of the employee were badly injured. Before long the parking lot was swarming with a firetruck, ambulances, police cars and even a local television reporter. (see her report here)
This was a tragic event. It’s likely the employees legs will never be the same. The drive of the car will be dealing with the guilt of having caused the accident. And those of us that saw it will add it to a long list of things we would rather have never seen. It was tragic – but it was an accident. There was no ill intent on the part of any one person.
But as I settled in for the night and checked my news feed, I learned that my community back home in Dallas had come under attack. Apparently snipers – likely two – had opened fire on uniformed police officers after a peaceful protest over the shootings earlier in the week around the country. The police shootings in Louisiana, New York and elsewhere this week – also tragic events that require justice, and other blog posts that have been brewing in my head as I travel.
Tragedy – intentionally inflicted on an entire community, and on these officers and their families is something I cannot get my head around. To be so arrogant as to assume the role of judge, jury and executioner on anyone as they go about the daily functions of their work is the epitome of broken humanity. To be angry over injustice is right. To be frustrated with a broken system should be motivation for activism and change. But the moment we allow ourselves to dehumanize another to the point we feel justified in taking their lives is the moment we stop looking to better ourselves, our culture and our species, and we blindly accept the lowest common denominator as the only inevitable reality.
Tragedy can and will strike anywhere; my life is evidence of that as is nearly every other person I know. It doesn’t mean I accept it as the standard. There is a better way. And that is what motivates me to press forward.