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The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Jan 24, 2015

JenniferFischerWhen two jumbo jets struck the World Trade Center, I was at the YMCA in Dorchester, Mass., and watched the events live, like so much of the world. And like much of the world, I watched in horror, but among strangers.

Many people were at home when it happened and watching either alone or with loved ones. Others were at work. I’m sure there were also others, like me, who found themselves watching this tragedy in the company of individuals they had never met.

Immediately, the barriers and differences between us began to fall away. We looked at one another, many with tears streaming down our faces, others stunned. We couldn’t begin to try and speak to one another. No one knew what to say, especially since so little was known about the event at that time.

We didn’t immediately know the two planes had left from Boston and thus could be carrying someone we knew. Many of us undoubtedly had friends and family in New York City and were full of concern for those loved ones. And you could tell that all of us wondered what could possibly have caused those planes to hit the World Trade Center.

It’s a different world now. If something similar were to happen, terrorism would be our first thought. And if something similar were to happen, and happen far away, many of us would barely notice. Acts of terrorism and random shootings have become quite routine.

This was what I noticed a couple of weeks ago as I found myself in a similar situation. Although the death count was markedly lower, I was at the gym and on a treadmill when the news broke about 12 individuals being killed by terrorists in Paris – the largest attack of its kind, and with the gunmen still on the loose.

This time, there was no collective consensus or response among those also watching the events unfold as there had been more than a decade earlier. In fact, many people simply changed the channel. The same thing occurred in the days to follow when I again was on the treadmill and news of the related hostage situation in Paris came across the screen.

I found myself hoping and wanting to speak to someone else about it, but the individuals next to me on their treadmills glanced at the news footage, exchanged a few brief words with me, and then flipped the channel. Apparently “The Price is Right” was more interesting, and as I walked through the gym to get water, I saw that most individuals had settled on ESPN or morning talk shows rather than selecting any of the news channels covering the news from Paris as it unfolded.

While it was not in our backyard and did not amount to the same number of lives lost, I still find myself feeling the weight of those recent events and the darkness that has undoubtedly enveloped many Parisians. I find myself wondering how individuals in Paris and across France must feel right now, wondering what might happen next. I wonder how the six million Muslims in France feel right now, the extreme majority of whom see the terrorists’ acts as completely counter to their religion and, of course, fear retaliation, discrimination and hatred.

I marvel at how accustomed we’ve become to violence. So often I hear “another mass shooting,” “another terrorist attack,” “another crazy gunmen,” with the incidents almost dismissed because they have become so common.

I wonder about how our collective conscience is shifting as violence becomes more prevalent (or at least more reported and mainstream). How does our collective conscience change? How do our perceptions of one another shift? How does our community grow or shrink? How will we move toward a more non-violent future with an emphasis on building understanding and equal opportunities rather than more war and separation?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m seeking them. I’m focusing on raising compassionate and empathetic children and creating media that humanize us all. I think part of the answer comes from building a world where we immediately empathize with one another and view each other as human beings deserving of dignity, respect and love, rather than reserving those feelings for a select few or for individuals just like us.

The truth is, we’re all in this together, so we might as well start acting like it.

 

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Private Citizen says:

    It’s true, the shock has worn off, but I think it may just be more of a case of not knowing what to do about it at this point, and if it’s not near us, why linger over the TV reports? We know the news will drone on about it for hours or days anyway, and we can catch up any time. I do hope, though, that even if people watch less coverage, the are still vigilant and prayerful.

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