This morning, I learned of the shooting in Arizona where 14 were wounded and 6 killed by a man believed to be mentally compromised. Of particular note to me was the 9-year old girl who was shot dead in this seemingly random act of senseless violence. The article I read stated the girl was born on 9/11/01. It immediately struck me that on the most violent day in U.S. history a child was born who, a short time later, would be killed in another act of senseless violence. To me, this was the very definition of irony.
After coming in from a walk with Miss D, I happened to glance down at the Sunday paper that had been left in the lobby for one of my neighbors. The bold headline stated: Arizona Congresswoman Shot in Rampage. My first thought was that that woman was still alive; the article I read this morning had stated that fact. Then I thought of the little girl. She was not alive. She was dead. And yet, she was not worthy of a big headline in a major market newspaper simply by virtue of the fact that, in the mind of the editor who created the headline, the Congresswoman trumped her in terms of status.
Why is it that we assign priority and importance to our fellow humans, simply based on class, profession and economic standing? What makes the Congresswoman’s life more valuable than the lost life of a 9-year old girl? Is the fact that I am an educated professional making a six-figure income make me more important than the homeless guy seeking shelter in the rain in my entryway? Why, when I am at work, I often feel invisible when in a room of attorneys? Does the fact that I cannot claim Juris Doctorate make my opinions less valuable?
Logic says no; it should not matter where you come from and what you do. What should be important is how you live your life. If you are a good, kind person then that should be the only status indicator. Unfortunately, reality dictates otherwise. Superficial factors of class and money often command how you are viewed in the world. It is human nature to categorize individuals…put them in easy-to-understand compartments in order to comprehend who we are dealing with, and in turn, use that information as a means to gauge goodness and success in life.
I don’t want to pretend that I myself do not engage in this behavior. Of course I do. I am only human, as flawed as that is. But I think I would be doing a disservice to myself if I didn’t question these things.
Life is a valuable commodity, no matter who you are or what you do. If more people remembered that, then perhaps we would not have such senseless acts of violence.