When reality assaults us,
Giving more than we can take
Like the utter devastation
Of tsunami and of quake
When admitting in the horror
Opens up the very heart
I suspect that, just to save itself,
The brain shuts down a part.
When the death and the destruction
Overwhelms your every sense,
Then your frontal lobe may run and hide
In simple self-defense;
It’s a manner of escape—
A means of slipping terror’s yoke—
Then, brainless, daft, and frightened,
You see cruelty as a joke.
If disaster breeds heroics,
As we see it sometimes can
When we put aside our differences
And help our fellow man,
It may show reserves of courage
When we feel our hearts may burst
Or it may peel back civility
And show us at our worst.
By now, you have likely seen the shameful comments on facebook, the callous, stupid references to Pearl Harbor, karma, and the ongoing disaster in Japan. Tragedy of this scale is overwhelming; perhaps stupidity is these people's way of distancing themselves from it.
Of course, the same process goes on all the time. I followed a twitter link from GrrlScientist to this story, of a 92-yr-old state representative who advocates eugenics. His (final?) solution to his state's financial problems is to wish they could send a portion of the population ("You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions - the defective people society would be better off without.") to Siberia to freeze.
Apparently, the nonagenarian freshman lawmaker is past his prime (according to accounts by his fellow representatives), which does not excuse but which may explain his statement. What is inexcusable, though, is the defense of his statements by members of his party (care to guess?). The comments at GrrlScientist's link are shameful, but unsurprising. Someone says something utterly indefensible, and what do we do? Admit it, condemn it, and work together? No, of course not! Circle the wagons, bring up the worst of the other side, even take the current idiocy and claim it is more characteristic of one's opponents!
I suspect that some things are just too far beyond the pale to contemplate. But rather than face it, some portion of the population (and I cannot help but wonder, could it be any of us, given the right situation? I hope not.) takes flight to fantasy. To some alternate reality where disasters are deserved, where contemplation of eugenics is justified, where the appropriate response to every crisis is to blame one's political opponents or the victims.
Sorry, this is a rambling rant. Fortunately, being utterly incoherent seems to be in fashion these days.