Not all news is national
This week the world has seen the murder of Nick Berg and the continued media storm over the pictures at the Abu Ghraib prison. But for my friend (and me, now), this is the week she lost her baby.
We look at the events on the front page or the web sites or the evening news and think that's what defines our times. But each of us lives, and each of us has joys and cares and tragedies that serve as higher and more profound signposts than any distant event.
My aunt died in 2001. It wasn't because of terrorism; it was cervical cancer. Yet our pain and loss was no less. 2001 was the year that the generic "we" lost 3000 citizens, but more importantly in my life it was the year that the personal "we" lost my favorite aunt.
It speaks to the useful and necessary fiction of talking about what "we the people" think about and share. Series finales of popular television shows serve that purpose nicely, but "we" are fractious enough in our pursuits and viewpoints anyway. Personal tragedies just highlight the fault lines that arise as a function of large societies.
But they also show the love lines that bring the smaller units of our society together in times of need. The larger "society" can take care of itself; it's largely a fiction, anyway. But these love knots that are so vital to the actual care of people--we can't let those dissolve.