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Columbia astronauts, 9/11 victims, disasters, celebrities, sports players, reality TV, and seemingly an endless list of other people all have something in common. All are given “larger than life” status by large groups of people. While compassion for suffering and death are normal, people seem to have a fixation on the spectacular and traumatic, and even worse, the fixation on the lives of others.
Are we so dull and boring we have to live our lives through others? Why else would we care what someone wears, who they date, or what awards they win? Movies, music, sporting events, etc are entertainment, period. If the person wins an award, it does not affect whether we liked the performance or not. Likewise whom they date and what they wear, does not affect how we liked the performance. Additionally, if someone is tough enough to “survive” in a given location, or eat disgusting things, does that make them better than us? The fact they are tough, brave, or stupid should speak for itself. I ask again, why do we care? One must have something significant missing in their life to be so fixated on the life of another.
Hero worship is taking the same path. With the tragic death of the Columbia astronauts, funds have already been established for the families. These brave people were no braver than other personnel either military or civilian. Where are the funds for the families of those killed in training, on duty, or at war? Do we think the Columbia astronauts are somehow more important than any other person killed doing their job?
The police officers and firefighters killed on 9/11/01 represented roughly half of the total killed in the line of duty that year. Yet there are funds for their families and none for the ones killed away from the 9/11 locations. How have we determined those men and women were different from the others? Did the spectacular events or terror connections change our reasoning? Funds were also provided the civilian victims’ families. How are those deaths more significant than the thousands of people who are killed in accidents or murdered each year? Where are their funds?
It seems the time has come to evaluate our lives. Happiness and fulfillment come from within each of us, not from another person’s achievements or tragic demise.
© o. dell