Sunday, September 11, 2005


I don't expect you to agree or disagree with me on this one, but I was thinking about the tendency of human beings to think in terms of our tragedies. It's hard NOT to think about it when the only thing on TV today was about the tragic events that happened 4 years ago. One of the cable news channels has been keeping tally, 13 days since the latest tragedy. And in case you've lost track, it's been 259 days since the tsunami and 2,964 days since Princess Di's death.
Bonus points if you know why this is entitled 'iron'.
Why do tragic anniversaries hold such power over us? It's as if we enjoy being reminded of our misery. The happy anniversaries are too few and far between. We should celebrate our birthdays with great fanfare, but most of us would rather not be reminded, myself included. Why not celebrate the anniversary of graduating high school or university? Celebrate the anniversary of successful surgery or of an excellent vacation. Throw a party commemorating the previous party.

I'll tell you why: It's too self-indulgent in a society based on a currency of misery. People in tattered clothes, crying and wailing in agony are what we're sold on TV and the radio. But one of the things I remember from that one book I read by the Dalai Lama is that misery is NOT the natural state of man. Human beings do not naturally seek out unhappiness and anger, nor are we predisposed to tragedy and suffering. I think Kicking Bird was on to something when he stated matter-of-factly, "You will mourn no longer."


At 8:31 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

Regarding 9/11, I'm not miserable. I am still furious. But I don't think misery is the natural state of man. I think misery has become an industry and is taken advantage of by everyone from psychologists to pharmaceutical companies to Lifetime Television for Women.

When you look at the big picture, the human race has never had it so good. Sure there are things that always need to be improved and there is nothing wrong with striving for perfection, but generally speaking... Yet somehow I fear we are more miserable than ever and our small life tragedies have become insurmountable. I don't know why such nihilism is so pervasive.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Duly Inspired said...

TH - Interesting post. I think it's large scale in that we mark time by events, and those events are often tragic, either by our own hands or nature. But not all. Not the first step on the moon, for instance, or vaccines. Great things, really great things slip by quietly. Right now, the man or woman who will develop a cure for Cancer or MS could be a toddler sitting on the floor, putting a blue block atop a red, figuring it out. Quiet.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

I think we remember tragedies because we survived them. It could have been us.

Tragedies remind us that we're alive.

At 1:26 AM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Z- If things are so great, why are you still furious? Can't you let go of the anger? I can't think of anything that would make me more miserable than being furious.

Alison- I think it's large scale that we collectively mark time by tragic events, but even individually we mark time by our own individual tragedies. And while you're right about there being good things, the bad seem to outweigh the good even if it's only in our perception.

Theic- There's nothing I can argue with there, but don't the good things in life also remind us that we're alive? And wouldn't it be more productive, in terms of our own happiness and well-being, to think happy thoughts?

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Duly Inspired said...

TH - can't help but toss 2 more cents in the pot. With the exception of deaths, what tragedies are individual lives marked by? I'm much more accustomed to the accomplishments -- graduation, marriage, children, or accomplishments in our extra curicular activities/goals. The tragedies mark us, to be sure, but the other hallmarks can't be denied. This is a conversation not at all meant for 7:45 in the morn... yawn.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger DeAnna said...

We sometimes measure our inner strength by the tragedies we have survived.
Without suffering and misery, how would we know how strong we are?

At 11:10 AM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Alison- I was thinking of events that we commemorate annually. With the exception of wedding anniversaries, it's uncommon to celebrate graudations or other accomplishments more than once. Birthdays are a unique case though, as the parents celebrate for a while, then it becomes about the person, who often eventually dread the birthday. (Admittedly not a perfect model)

But before I go too far down the road of defending misery, I'm in favor of celebrating the tiny victories. :)

De- That's the same thing Theic said, so my response is the same :P

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Zelda said...

I am not miserable when I am angry. I am miserable when I'm sad. I've gotten over being sad about 9/11 and I'm now angry. Anger makes me proactive, and being proactive is satisfying. When I feel my part is played, I will feel a sense of satisfaction, and that will make me happy and I will celebrate. Perhaps it is different for others, but that's how it is for me.


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