The world is filled with tragedy.
So much so that the above line feels entirely like a cliché. Terrible things happen with every moment that passes, every breath taken.
I don’t say that to depress you. Or maybe I do.
Yesterday, four people – three young, twenty-something women and one young man – were killed in Jerusalem when a truck plowed into a group of soldiers on a busy street.
Yesterday, five people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale’s airport.
But a casual look at just about any news site wouldn’t tell you this. Just now, they’re full of side-by-side ‘who wore it better’ comparisons from the Golden Globes, brimming with speeches and dresses and ‘Which Ryan is Hotter.’
And maybe that’s as it should be, on the night of a major award show.
But that doesn’t change one simple fact: when I saw those two tragic stories pop up in my news feed, I didn’t want to click on either of them.
I didn’t want to know.
I chose, for a while, anyway, to click on cute kittens, and the most popular products on amazon. To look at pretty dresses and dieting tips, rather than face the tragedy taking place far away from me.
But I was wrong.
And it’s easy, isn’t it?
It’s very easy for me to say – ‘that’s so depressing… I’ll look at it later.’ And maybe later never comes. It’s easy for me to say that I need a ‘pick-me-up’ – that I need to fill my mind with lightness and joy, rather than tragedy and pain.
It’s easy for me to say that I don’t have room in my heart for other people’s tragedy – that I’ve had enough of my own. That’s the excuse I’ve been using for some time now.
Because, while we live in a world where more information is at our fingertips than ever has been in the past – where news spreads across continents in the beat of a heart – we also live in a world where it is easier than ever to ignore it.
To say that it’s not our tragedy. Not our pain. To say that we can’t handle it right now. Or to say that we simply don’t want to.
It’s easy not to read something depressing. In a world full of such darkness, darkness can be incredibly easy to avoid.
Just click on the next story. Look at a pretty dress. Read the sports statistics. Learn how to french braid your hair. Peruse cute animal photos. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself going, right?
I’m not writing about the darkness and pain of this world – you already know enough about it. So do I…. enough so that I haven’t wanted to face it.
Because ignoring tragedy gives us the luxury of avoiding pain. But it also gives us the luxury of not doing anything about it.
And in a time when we’ve elected a ‘presidential’ candidate who lies as easily as he breathes, who has no respect for anyone outside of himself, nor any respect for knowledge or kindness or any of the noble traditions of this country, truth is going to become a valuable commodity, and we have to cling to it with all of our strength.
In a world where terrorists thrive on uneducated and misinformed populations, we can’t afford to look away from tragedy. Or to look away from truth.
Because it’s easy not to – and it will become easier.
Because, now, more than ever, in this precarious moment, we need an educated public – one that advocates for truth and will accept nothing less.
We need people who read. We need people who listen. People who know. And people who care enough to do something about it.
And in a world where it’s so much easier not pay attention – and not care – we no longer have the luxury of letting it go.
It’s easier not to read the article. It’s easier to look away. It’s easier to say that I’ve got too much pain in my own life, or not enough time, or not enough energy. It’s incredibly easy to say I don’t have room for the depression or the sadness.
But that’s not a choice I can make anymore.
And neither should you.
It is our responsibility, as a public that supports freedom – that supports the values our nation was built on – to support our truth-tellers. To fight for investigative journalism, while we still have the chance.