Why I Don’t Mind the Media Focus on the Bombers

I’ve been seeing a lot of these memes on facebook and twitter about how we need to ignore the bombers and focus on the heroes.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that.  It is not that I disagree, but I don’t quite agree, either.  And then a friend wrote this post about the issue, and I like what she said.  But, her thoughts were different from my thoughts, and I’ve been trying to sort out exactly what I’m thinking all day. 

You see, I do think we need to focus on the heroes and the good people.  I’ve already written about that.  But, when the media reports on the bombers, I don’t think it is just a morbid fascination that keeps us interested in those details.  There is undoubtedly an element of that for some people, but I think most people are just trying to make sense of it all. 

Listen, someone in my family recently did something pretty horrible to another family member and I just found out about it this morning.  My sister and I spent a good chunk of time this afternoon discussing why.  Neither of us have any love lost for the perpetrator, but still our conversation centered more around the perpetrator than it did the victim.  We, of course, also discussed the victim and the impact the horrible thing will have, but that just wasn’t the only thing we needed to hash out.  It helped us to make sense of the horrible thing by delving into the motivations and point of view of the perpetrator.  We both still mostly despise the perpetrator but, speaking for myself, I felt more settled about the whole thing after discussing some whys.  I’ll never really be able to understand what brought the perpetrator to the point of being so cruel, I feel like I can deal with what I have figured out (PS that mostly boiled to the perpetrator being mentally unstable).

I think that is why so many of us are interested in the people who turned themselves into terrorists last Monday.  It is not because we are more interested in the bombers than we are the heroes and victims.  It is that we more easily understand the heroes and victims.  And when we are trying to make sense of a senseless act of terror, we want to know who the bad guys are.  We want to understand their motivations and their point of view and we want to know WHY.  And even though it is never very likely that we will really be able to understand how someone can be so cruel, perhaps we can take what we have figured out and learn to deal what happened.  And many of us will always still despise the bad guys (although, I do like my friend’s hope for a more compassionate point of view-see link above) but coming to terms with what happened just might mean knowing more about them. 

And maybe that is not how everyone functions.  Maybe you’d rather know nothing and see nothing of the bad guys.  But, please keep in mind that we all deal with tragedy in our own way.  And for some of us, that means needing more information about the bad guys. 

That is all.



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