This is perhaps a post in bad taste, though that is not my intention. I do not wish in anyway to detract or cast a shadow on the loss of the Columbia. The loss is indeed great, and the grief of the families and friends involved must be very hard to deal with.
The main point of my post is that there seems to be an incongruity in the reaction of Americans to tragedy. Seven brave men and women died returning home on the Columbia, and with due regard, we as Americans stepped up and mourned with the family and friends of those who died. Yet a few month ago, when the plane crashed into the hanger, the reaction was much less, yet the death count much higher.
It seems as though, for those of us who are unconnected with the tragedies directly, the emotional response is dependant on the drama and media hype given to the accident. The Colombia’s explosion seemed more important, a greater tragedy, partly I think because the Space Program has more romance and excitement associated with it.
The plane that crashed a few months ago seemed routine. Sure, it made the news, and most Americans probably thought it was sad, and rightly so. At least, that was my reaction. Yet within a couple days, it was mostly forgotten.
When I compare the two tragedies, I find the plane crash worse, as the loss of life was greater. But I feel worse for the families of the Astronauts. This leads me to believe that what I feel is less about the loss of life, and more about the proper reaction to a good drama.
Those are hard words, and I speak for myself. I sit in my cubicle and work each day, and very little beyond my front door actually affects me emotionally. The news has almost become another cheesy reality show, full of hype and drama. Americans, if they are like myself, respond to entertainment, not to the reality that over 200 people died three months ago. Its almost as though we care more about the loss of a Shuttle than a Boeing Aircraft.
It reflects the moral apathy in our lives. I respond more often out of habit than moral fortitude. Millions of precious children are brutally murdered each year, and I feel very little. Hundreds die in tragic accidents, and I feel very little emotion at all. Seven brave souls perish in an accident, and I feel regret, and I am left wondering why.
Like I said, I do not wish detract from the comfort and support that goes out to the families of the Astronauts. Yet I would wish the same comfort and support for all those families who have suffered through the loss of loved ones. I would the importance of a tragedy be measured by those things that are more important, the loss of life, and less by those things that mean so much less.