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What is to be done with this tragedy?

January 7th, 2005 | 1 min read

By Keith E. Buhler

The situation in the East is overwhelming. I hope that I am not the only one experiencing some resistance at facing the truth, hearing what has happened, seeing the images. It feels surreal and a part of me wants it to stay that way.

I am at a loss as to how to even inquire into what has happened, how to feel, what to do. Tragedy and horror at a personal or familial level I have experienced and have some precedent for digesting. On the national and international level I am... at a loss.

For myself, as probably for many Americans, the last time an event of this general type shocked my psyche was the day of 9-11. This disaster they are hailing as "the worst natural disaster ever documented." The tragedy of many deaths is, I suppose, not categorically different than that of one death. It is rather a difference of degree. Here, then, on a worldwide level, we are forced to confront our mortality.

C.S. Lewis, addressing those who criticize academics for continuing to study during war-time, pointed out that the "normal" state of being of England, being "at peace," is a fiction and a phantom. The world --in the present progressive tense -- simply is in a state of chaos; it is true that destruction and death occur.

This is not a comfort for those dealing directly and indirectly with the loss in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and other nations, but rather a clarification of the question, a clarification of the horror. Not, "Why did so many people die?" But, "Why do we die?"

Why do we die?

God have mercy on us.