Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sense and Sensibility

I've been thinking a little, about the shooting here in Melbourne yesterday.
There's no doubt in my mind that the alleged shooter is an asshole (by his actions alone), so I'm not going to dwell upon him. But it got me thinking about the victims.

As far as normal, logical, human reasoning goes, it's a sad affair in everybody's minds I am sure. Well, it is in mine.
But - reading the paper on the way home it got me thinking about why the victims are always portrayed as hardcore angels? Sure enough in this case, the guy that lost his life was a bona fide 'hero' (he died aiding the cause of another) but what if he was an asshole too? I mean, it's possible to be a hero in a particular situation but still be an asshole any other time, isn't it?

What if he beat his wife every other night? What if he spent a lifetime embezzling monies - your money? What if he discreetly fostered kiddy pr0n?

Before you decide to make the 'harsh' call upon me: I know.
I know that nobody deserves to have their life taken by another, least of all whilst being a good samaritan and helping a fellow in need. Let's get that straight right away.

And in this case, I'm not suggesting that the victim who lost his life was indeed an asshole.

But think for a moment about what (or how) you'd be feeling right now if the guy that got killed was a rival gang member? Or an accomplice?
It happens more regularly in the news than 'innocent' loss of life cases.. seriously, would you be feeling so sad about the situation if it was a known violent criminal that got shot and killed instead?

Interesting, huh?

And further, what exactly would you be thinking? That there was one less crim on the world? That he 'got what he deserved'? That he knew the stakes going in? (which obviously, the victim in this case didn't..) Our sense of justice is prone to some shifting goalposts if you ask me, in both directions.

And further - think of somebody you really loathe. You hate them because of what they have repeatedly done to you over the years, or because they constantly get in the way of everything you do with a deliberate passion - their aim is to fuck things up for you, and they undermine all that is 'right' in the world.

What if this person got shot and killed?

Whilst I'm sure you would feel enraged and violated at the thought of a person losing their life, or at the thought of a person deciding to take another's life away, would you feel 100% sad?
Would there be a small part inside you that felt relieved this godforsaken prick of a person no longer roamed the earth? And would you feel guilty for ever having hated their guts, or for doing the things (no matter how trivial) you did to them in retaliation?

Another interesting topic all of this raises, is around the fact that we all move on, don't we? It's as if events such as this get swallowed up into a void, and there are a couple of scenarios that spring to mind on this one:
  • When someone quits their job.
    You know - the person that the company 'needs' to retain, but they get screwed over one last time and walk out the door. Jaws drop, and mutterings of "now we're really fucked because they looked after the xyz system!" travel at lightspeed across the organisation.
    But what happens? After a few days, the gaping hole closes over, and it's as if they never worked there to begin with. The company does not grind to a halt, and life at work goes on, including yours. AND, you subsequently rarely email them or keep in touch, despite sharing part of every working day with them perhaps.
  • When somebody gets killed.
    Similar, but of course it's just a little more final. Outside of the victim's family, the rest of us react to the situation with shock and horror, and we empathise with the victim's loved ones.
    BUT - how does it really affect us? I mean give it a week or so and the entire event will have been clouded out of the forefront of our minds by work, weather, traffic, relationships, and other news.
    Even today (one day after the shooting) people would have been traveling on foot upon the very patch of concrete that not 24 hours before marked the spot of a body laying in the street.
    Whilst I'm sure that anyone keeping up with the news would have thought about it, did it modify their daily routine in any way? Did they bother to take a different route to work? Did they do anything at all to make themselves 'safer' as they walked to work, or to respect the horrid loss of life? Likely not.

So, 'why'?

Personally, I think it's because we all believe it won't happen to us, and because we are largely desensitised to acts of violence (see previous blog entry), and because we live in a world that forces us to look after Number One. Sure, you may 'care' for the situation in an observatory sense, but what can you actually do about it? And with the pace of life nowadays, do you actually have the physical time or emotional headspace to do anything about it?
Once again, like it or not: unlikely.

The aim of this entry is not to trivialise a tragic event, and I honestly believe this was an horrifically tragic event with irreversible consequences.
No, I post this because amongst the raft of emotions and issues that occur as a result of something like this, there are some interesting questions around our psyche, our lifestyles, and our sensibilities, that bear thought.

What are we, exactly? What is it that we are becoming?

Do we even want to bother to know?


At 5:05 pm, June 20, 2007, Anonymous damon said...

I agree. We are all shallow and merely pretend to give a shit. We move on, but we don't care either.

At 5:10 pm, June 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes but hes aslo talking about our convenience of perspective on justice.

it made me think a lot about those examples you gave and what i would think if those situations happened to me. i can't say for sure i'd be upset forever if my asshole of a workmate died tomorrow. this is an interesting topic.

At 9:16 pm, June 20, 2007, Blogger Zarres said...

The same thing occurs when you're walking down the street and a car alarm goes off next to you. What do you do?

If you're anything like me, you move away rapidly.

Why? Because it's all just 'too hard'.
Sure, you could stick around to help out in case you saw anything unusual, or you could wait for the owner to get back to let them know it was just a passing truck that set it off.. but there are too many variables huh.

Too many opportunities for you to be implicated, let alone 'waste' your valuable time explaining things when let's face it, our own time is a precious commodity these days.

Makes one wonder what we have become.

At 10:51 pm, June 27, 2007, Anonymous slya said...

QFT. really dig your posts zarres. we are all out fo ourselves no doubtin it. its all bullzshit fo them that think its about each other. doesnt happen, not nemore, neways.

At 9:24 pm, July 02, 2007, Blogger Zarres said...

Thanks slya.
Well, I guess proof is in the pudding:
It's now been two weeks since the fateful event, and how many of you can say it's still in your mind?

/swallowed up



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