Friday, January 1, 2016


I wonder to what extent, if any, the blithe "terrorism" of today nourishes and replenishes a dwindling larder of "shock" that was more common in other times. Once a purse-snatching or bank robbery or dust-up between unruly gangs might have had "shock" value. These were rendings of a shared social outlook and personal tapestry.

But bit by bit, as the Internet among others helps to broadcast such events, the "shock" and hence caring has dwindled until now only a beheading or the slaughter of school children can (maybe) scratch the surface ... and that not for long. Death, once a more-widely-shared fear or shock, now awaits parsing ... some deaths are not worth remarking; others are shocking.

The shared social outlook is somehow no longer a wide and deep matter of assumption. Or does this assertion only reflect my own age and experience? It just seems to me that what once might have been a shock is now simply the new normal and a real shock requires added volume and horror if it is to cut through my foggy insides and touch me instantaneously and painfully. Instant revulsion: Shock.

And I sense that I am not alone -- that others as well have raised the bar and in so doing have diminished the common cause. Maybe death is a shared horror or fear, but, well, if it happens to some people, it's not so bad. The old house has old wiring and requires additional juice sent down frayed highways in order to light the way.

"Terrorism" -- at least for now -- increases the volume and impact and juice, perhaps. True, it's a vital political tool for politicians who are not keen to govern, but it also seems to be necessary at a personal level. Something really, really bad needs to happen or threaten to happen before "shock" stands any chance these days.

If any of this holds water, what then does it say of whatever the "social contract" might mean? What connections are left, assumptions shared, and peaceful lives buttressed among us? Is "shock" any longer a social adhesive? I'm not suggesting it needs to be, but I think what "shock" may say about "shared values" is interesting.

Just noodling on this first day of 2016.

Happy New Year to all!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's the nature of the victim that charges it. I remember as a lad the preacher would make a big deal about christians being targeted by anyone anywhere. Some folks are pretty upset about fetus's in a headline. This one got me yesterday, but kids and animals always seem to get the worst of it.