There’s a moral disease going around America in the recent years. It’s likely been around since military massacres of civilians were replaced with civilian massacres of civilians. It’s the idea that, wherever a group of civilians are murdered, that we should bulldoze or block public use of that building, and convert it into a memorial.
In the panoply of America’s moral problems, it doesn’t top the list, but I suggest it deserves a closer look, because current historical trends indicate that we will continue encountering it with increasing frequency. In modern memory, it started with almost every notorious yet soon-forgotten mass shooting -- Cleveland Elementary, Stockton, CA - 1989; Lindhurst High School (H.S.), Olivehurst, CA - 1992; Heath H.S., West Paducah, KY - 1997; Thurston H.S., Springfield, OR - 1998; Columbine H.S., CO - 1999; Virginia Tech - 2007; Northern Illinois State - 2008; then 2012‘s Chardon H.S., OH; and Sandy Hook Elementary. Then there’s the four notorious non-school-related mass shootings that jointly racked up 134 victims shot, 49 dead -- Luby’s Cafeteria, Killeen TX - 1991; 101 California, San Francisco- 1993; Los Angeles Jewish Community Center, - 1999; Aurora Theaters, CO -2012.
In most of those cases, there was a certain clamor to close the affected buildings, sites, or institution, and replace it with a monument or memorial.
That’s a bad idea. Here’s why:
First, it means the terrorists win. If Israel did this every time it suffered a massacre, the entire country would be a monument, and the future of a Living Israel would be self-eliminated. Israel gets this incessantly. They clean up and move on, sending future killers the message that they cannot disrupt a way of life.
Second, it’s the height of self-important morbid narcissism. It fetishizes death in the most selfish way. None of us is so important that we should make a theater into a public memorial. I’m sorry for the tragic losses of survivors. But people die tragically all the time while driving, hunting, boating, construction, bathing, during robberies, carjackings, rapes, murders. They’re ALL senseless. If a given survivor feels he/she can’t ever go to that theater again, that’s him clinging to his sense of survivor guilt. Do you think your killed loved one would want your daily life disfigured by your inability to process your grief for the rest of your life? Would your dead loved one want you to be so emotionally crippled as to be unable to give joy, love, support and laughter to others? We all know the truism -- your dead loved one would want you to live a fuller, richer life -- not to deny everyone else use of a given facility or property because you want your loved one honored. The thought that I as a father would choose to keep a building open where my hypothetical son was killed, is not incumbent on my whims. It is my civic duty to let it stay open. It is a duty not only to my fellow citizens, but a duty to my loved ones who are still living, a duty to be fully human, a duty to maintain a receptive soul so that I can at the least mirror if not project my humanity toward others, and hopefully, to enrich their lives.
In contrast, to make the entire building where my hypothetical son was killed into a non-productive monument, is to force-feed my personal inability or refusal to process grief upon every other person in my community who may want to utilize that building for anything besides witnessing my selfish clinging to my personal demons. It’s not merely a reflection of my inability to process loss, but also my arrogance to state that my hypothetical dead son was so supremely important to the world that I feel that all other Americans should be denied the privilege if not right, to use that building for any other purpose than to worship at the altar of MY self-importance, and the importance of MY family and of MY son.
I’m sorry if I have offended the families of victims of violence, but the unintended selfish arrogance of people who feel that the rest of the world must imbue the same value in the victim’s family as the victim’s family does, by denying public use of killing sites, offends me as the member of a democratic society that best operates on the premise that each of us is part of a greater whole, and not just 300 million competing individual units of ego and self worth.
LOS ANGELES -- California is battling a surge of measles cases clustered around the famous Disneyland theme park, despite the virus being all but eliminated in the United States, authorities said Thursday.
Fifty-nine cases have been recorded since the end of December, the California Department of Public Health reported, urging people to get themselves vaccinated -- in the face of a movement against the vaccinations over concerns about links to autism in children.
“Of the confirmed cases, 42 have been linked to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California,” the health department said. Five of the cases involved Disney employees.
“Initial exposures occurred in December, but additional confirmed cases visited Disney parks while infectious in January,” the department added on its website.
Measles is highly contagious and can be spread through the air without physical contact. Infection usually begins with a fever followed by a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and a rash.
The health department said the spate of cases underscored the need for vaccinations against the illness. Twenty-eight cases from 34 for which data was available involved individuals who had not been vaccinated.
Measles has been officially eradicated from the United States since 2000 while remaining widespread in other regions including Europe, Africa and Asia. Eradication means the disease is no longer native to the United States.
But there were 644 measles cases in the US last year, an enormous jump from 173 cases in 2013.
An analysis by the Los Angeles Times last year found that 9.5 percent of kindergarten children in an Orange County school district were exempted from vaccinations because of personal beliefs.
In a Santa Monica and Malibu school district, the rate was 14.8 percent, while statewide it was 3.1 percent.
Authorities said the best protection for children remained the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.
But an anti-vaccination trend in recent years has emerged, particularly in North America, amid fears the MMR vaccine causes autism, despite an array of studies which have contradicted those concerns.
“The clear consensus in the scientific community is that there is no association between vaccination and autism,” the California health department said. (AFP)