“Tragedy.”

One of the more terrifying aspects of U.S. culture at the moment is the normalization, if not naturalization, of violent deaths. Especially school shooting and police brutality, which should be rare and shocking incidents, are naturalized to a point where they are treated not so much as horrific human (inter)action, but as “tragedies.” Don’t misunderstand me: These deaths are horrible tragedies that bring great sadness and grief to those close to the killed, and often also to others involved in the incident.

Yet so often, these human actions are treated as tragedies in the way natural disasters are tragedies: Terrifying, horrible, but unavoidable and reoccurring parts of U.S. life. Once the terribleness and spectacularness has been broadcasted and shops have reopened, people (both in the media and in front of screens) increasingly just shrug. Like there is nothing to be done. Just brace for impact when the next wave comes. 

But that is just not true. Other than tornadoes or hurricans, which are truly beyond the grasp of human power, police violence and school shootings are carried out by humans. Humans who aren’t pure, uncontrollable, “natural” evil either, but social creatures, living in our middle, where they come from and where they belong. That is a difficult aspect to live with, but it is also an aspect that opens up these naturalized tragedies to change. Social environments, their human inhabitants, and their outcomes can be changed for the better. The solution to these problems are complicated, aren’t easy, most still lie in the future (though other coutries seem to be able to deal with them) and change won’t come easy. But these deaths are man-made, not sublime, terrifying nature.

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