The Greeks sure had it right, didn’t they?
Yesterday’s was worthy subject matter for their best playwrights.
Life is tragic enough—the trauma of almost all childhoods, the waste of young lives in accidents and wars and random violence, even like that which occurred yesterday.
And if we survive all that, the tragic reality that we are all going to die anyway.
As sad as we can be for the families of those who were killed yesterday on that college campus, how difficult it is sometimes to feel the same sense of loss when we watch the news and see the scenes of carnage in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It seems more random and cruel on a bucolic campus in rural “America.”
But in many ways, it’s less so.
The students didn’t expect it, or know it might be coming. And though in most cases those last minutes must have been fraught with untold fear and pain, for most of those who died, as I understand it, the end came relatively quickly.
The Iraqi kids blown up in equal numbers on their college campuses, by equally suicidal maniacs, had to live with the fear of that possibility every minute of their waking hours, and probably even in many of their sleeping ones, with nightmares and anxious, startled wake up calls at the sound of bombs and gunfire.
As kids in some “American” cities have had to live with similar fears and nightmares, as gun shots permeate their lives and the random deaths of innocent young victims fills their days.
Though the size of this tragedy, as the news reports kept repeating about the body count—“the largest in American history”—makes it seem even more tragic and sad and cause for despair, it is a story that could be written every day, somewhere in the world, on some scale, whether smaller or larger: the deaths of innocent young people whose lives have barely taken shape yet.
How unacceptably stupid, that our fellow humans could cause what seems like the premature deaths of others, when death will come to each of us eventually anyway.
But in fact, that is the reality we’re forced to accept at some point, or not. Each life has its arc, its beginning and end, and what comes between is life, yours and mine, and as too many have said for centuries before I came along, that “eternal now” of our actually consciously being alive is what matters.
As a memorial to those who died yesterday and will die today, and tomorrow, cut off in what seems like the prime of their lives—or even earlier, on what seems like the threshold of their lives—in honor of all of them, let us live this moment as if it is the only one we have.
Because, it may well be.