Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thought - Boston

When a tragedy occurs, my first reaction is cynicism.  I see my lack of compassion as a character flaw that I have to live with, but I don't necessarily think that it makes me a bad person.  There are plenty of helpful and giving people out there who make a difference every day; I just don't happen to be one of them.  Call me callus, but I just don't get very gushy.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most people don't care so much that it hurts and that most people are as selfish as I am.  I don't see selfishness as evil; you are you and your life, by definition, revolves around you.  And this belief is why I get so cynical and grumpy when I see the masses being falsely sincere and emotional.

Let's look at the recent Boston tragedy, and let's try to keep an open mind.  It was an awful thing that happened.  As the husband of a marathon runner, my mind immediately went to the finish line and picturing myself and my two kids standing there waiting for her to cross.  How horrible it must have been for the people there, their families, and the people of Boston who will be living in fear for quite some time now.  But as bad a thing as it was, it only directly affected a handful of people.  Chances are you weren't there, you didn't know anybody there, and your life has not changed in any way since that day.  So why do you feel the urge to post on FaceBook that you're thinking about Boston today, or that you're praying for some strangers, or that America will get whoever did this and make them pay?  The answer; because you're thinking about yourself.  You're attempting to feel what it might have been like to be there because that makes you feel alive.  You're putting yourself into a group that you're not really a part of because it's nice to be a part of something.  We are all of us very selfish people who show it in very unusual ways.  I just happen to write it on a blog.

Maybe I'm being insensitive.  Maybe it's too soon, or you think you really do care, or it really was that bad.  But I just don't think so.  I think people, especially we as Americans, are extremely short-sighted and that this wasn't really as horrible as we're making it out to be for our own selfish reasons.  Take a look at this article.  I am struck by the quote, "In Syria, it's not Boston every day, but many times per day."  We are extremely lucky to live in this country.  It's far from perfect and let's not kid ourselves and claim that it's the best place in the world, but the majority of us are wealthy, safe, and free.  This is not the case in most countries.  Not every one has terrorist violence every single day, but a lot do.  And so when something bad happens here, when three people die, when we feel a little shaken, we band together and cry and seek justice and feel angry and post things on FaceBook and very soon we forget all about it.  Why?  Because we can.  Because that is a luxury we can afford; forgetting that awful thing that once happened because it only happens once every few years.

I guess my point is that we could all be a little more "real".  The attack in Boston was awful, but worst things happen every day all over the world and we don't even care.  We don't care because we're selfish, because we're safe, because we're us and they're them.  So maybe we should stop saying how horrible we feel, how we'll never forget this, and how tight we are as a country now, when in reality we're getting a little high from the excitement and in six months we won't remember it.  Maybe we shouldn't pretend to be moved by pictures of sobbing families when what we really like are pictures of bloody streets. We are all, selfishly, getting something out of this tragedy, and perhaps that's a cynical thing to say, but then again no one ever accused me of being warm and fuzzy.


  1. The event doesn't become acceptable just because something worse happens somewhere else everyday. As a runner I have empathy those who had their legs blown off at a moment that was probably a highlight in their life. Certainly I do agree with you a lot of Americans take opportunities such as this to grandstand on Facebook, which is really easy because all you have to do is take 30 seconds to type something and click post. However not all Americans just play it safe and selfish. Many people I know make real choices economically, socially, and politically that are far from the norm of society in an attempt to make our country and the world at large a better place. They at least deserve the right to have a Facebook post of solidarity with Boston because they are not just hiding behind a keyboard.

    1. I agree & said that there are people out there who aren't as selfish as I am. But, ironically, I am someone who is often politically & socially unselfish. So maybe what bothers me is that we don't seem to feel solidarity as humans very often, only solidarity as Americans.