Too Big To Hail
Updated: Jun 9
Like millions of other Americans, I have strong feelings about what is going on in our country today as I ponder the death of one of my fellow citizens, George Floyd, at the hands (or more accurately, knee) of law-enforcement in MN, while watching the wanton destruction of the fabric of our society on which I and all of my fellow citizens depend.
Because the feelings are strong and the thoughts are clear and fervent, I have a strong urge to do what everyone does these days without a second thought – share them.
On Facebook. On Twitter. On the usual suspects.
But I can’t. Or I won’t. At least, not yet.
Because what I want to say will be read by those who agree with me – and that will make no difference.
And because what I want to say will be read by those who don’t agree with me – and that will also make no difference – at best. But at worst, it will feed division by upsetting someone enough to respond in a way that will cause me and others to feel the need to respond … and so on into that energetic black hole of ever-increasing futility and frustration...
… which is, in the broadest sense and in large part, where tragedies like those we are mourning today come from.
Why do we do it? Why do we exclaim where it does so little good?
Probably just because social media is there. In the same way, we are pulled to the edge of the cliff mostly because it is there. (We can see the rocks and the sea and the sky all perfectly well from the safety of a few safe yards back.)
Think about what good all that social media sharing does – and doesn’t do. Think about the net effect on the emotions of all of those who encounter one’s thoughts.
Does it add to the healing – or the reeling?
Almost all of it adds to the reeling, I’d suggest.
I think we might have created a monster – or a bunch of monsters: platforms that urge us to pronounce on the greatest tragedies and challenges we face in a way that never does any good per se, and in fact makes it harder to heal the social and cultural wounds that cause us to want to exclaim in the first place.
Events like the death of George Floyd are Too Big to Hail.
At these times, the urge is to speak – and post – to jettison the pain we feel.
Perhaps we should resist that urge until we can speak – and post – to reach the pain that others feel.