February 04, 2003

On Columbia's Descent

CNN.com - NASA remembers 'Columbia seven' - Feb. 4, 2003

With something like the tradegy of Columbia's magnitude, it behooves me to take a few days to puzzle it out. Both because I'm not unbiased, and because this caught me unaware: I'm a big space program supporter, but I didn't even know the space shuttle was up.

Do I feel for the people up in space? Yes. But the eulogies and grieving process is being televised, and feeling sorry for myself for the Action News Team's cameras seems tacky and shallow. What with all the national tragedies, I'm thinking the nation can't grieve any more when something actually bad happens. We're a nation perpetually mourning, perpetually in tragedy. We're the Drama Queen of Nations, and everyone else is tired of it. Including us.

To flip that around, I'm also upset at the people who won't even discuss it, as if ignoring what happened about it will help. People did die; I have no idea if they were brave, but I suspect they were, and the astronauts certianly did know the risks and went anyway. It's something to honor, even if just for a minute. Turning off the TV to avoid hearing about it perpetually, that's one thing. Getting ticked because it was on in the first place is another: this is something to mourn.

What happens when we become so tragedy-shocked, so weary of events that we can't even properly feel bad, because we feel manipulated? You turn off, tune out, and ignore things; you can just let the news media dictate to you the "feel-bad story" of the day; or you can dig through the schmaltz that Big Media feeds to us, get to the nuggets of information, and make up your mind on your own. I choose the latter: I couldn't live with ignoring things, and I hate being manipulated.

I feel bad, all on my own, for the astronauts, for the ground crew, for the space program. I'll mourn quietly though, under a starry night filled with stars I want someone to reach.

Posted by Ted Stevko at February 4, 2003 04:14 PM