Three things happened yesterday.
My oldest daughter, Elise, told me about her upcoming trip to Berlin with her class. In preparation for the trip they are studying the Holocaust.
“I really don’t like to read about it, watch the movies they make us watch, and I am dreading going to the concentration camps and museums,” she said. The reason was clear: “I can’t get over the images, and the knowledge that this did in fact happen. People did this to real people. The faces of the victims haunt me. When we go to the concentration camp I am dreading being in a place where such gruesome actions happened.” She continued: “I also can’t stop thinking about the fact that these kinds of tragedies are happening today, in our world. And that makes it even worse. I just don’t want to think about it.”
Later, my youngest daughter, Kristin, came home from school. “We are learning about the slave trade at school,” she informed us. “You know, those people were treated terribly. Did you know how they were treated on the ships that took them from Africa?” She was obviously shocked at the state of mankind. She had not realized they could be that bad. The slave trade was a tragedy we still have not recovered from.
Then I saw this article: Gold iPhone Tragedy. This poor man had to wait in line for two (I repeat TWO) weeks to get a gold iPhone 5S. And the tragedy: He did not get one! He did not get his freaking gold iPhone! If that is not a tragedy, then what is! Luckily, the unlucky man got two other phones, just not the one he really wanted.
A tragedy? I looked up the meaning:
tragedy |ˈtrajidē|noun ( pl. tragedies )
an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.
The slave trade was, and still is, a tragedy. The Holocaust was a tragedy. The war in Syria is a tragedy. The ongoing abuse of civilians in Burma is a tragedy. There are plenty of tragedies in the world.
That people don’t care about these tragedies, but that they have the audacity to call not getting a gold-colored phone a tragedy, is truly a tragedy.
How have we gotten here? How are we able to take these things seriously? People waiting in lines for two weeks to get a phone they don’t even need? Teens spending more time on getting their makeup on than they spend on homework. Mothers wanting their children to looks like fashion models. Fathers dreaming of faster cars and bigger biceps. All of us focusing all our energies on stuff that don’t really matter, and not on the stuff that really matters.
I am tempted to call it a tragedy.