Uncomfortable Silences

Uncomfortable silences, like when someone tells you they have cancer. Or maybe when someone tells you that they’re recovering from the death of someone they held dear. We’ve all found ourselves cringing inwardly as we try to figure out how best to express our empathy or sympathy. Nobody wants too sound too trite or too flippant when they finally open their mouth. Even if they did, the bereaved one is hardly likely to respond with a mouth full of abuse.

They’re even less likely to contact all their Facebook friends, Twitter contacts etc.. and broadcast the message that you, a friend, had said something to them that they were at odds with or simply didn’t like. They’re struggling through a bereavement, somebody’s death, the death of somebody they personally knew, someone they loved. The death in other words of someone whose life has had and will have an impact on their life. So they’re not going to tweet or retweet your insensitive remarks to their mates, no way! Because this bereavement they’ve suffered? This event that has impacted their lives? Is way, way, too important for that. Still less will they be likely to encourage their friends and associates to retweet and tweet to all their friends and associates and then deluge you with abuse, in the fervent hope (bereavement aside), that your account will eventually fold and be shut down.

That kind of behaviour you’d expect of the type of individual who isn’t genuinely aggrieved by this bereavement they have suffered. What they really are, is glad about the opening this bereavement has created through which they can express their petty grievances and gripes about this life, nurse and settle a few scores and finally, display an ugly sort of power whilst hiding behind this….bereavement, as a sort of camouflage or even a defence. And so to the murder of two New York police officers a couple of days ago. Since I lack the sort of life experiences that would qualify me to comment effectively on this issue I will use the words of another more qualified individual,

Intimacy is not achieved in a week or a month, or even two. But then, real human connection is not a requirement for narrative journalism to find some measure of success. A story in which a reporter can walk into people’s lives, snatch a good tale and then walk away-this is an assignment to be relished; lives in the balance, acquired with comfortable dispassion and without the psychic cost.

Intellectually, that was how we imagined ‘the corner’ before we began the journey….We understood that as a non-fiction exercise we would be spending a year in a world in which tragic and brutal events would occur. We knew we would be meeting people consigned to…debilitating poverty and in many cases to the most unforgiving outcomes. From the first we saw the inevitability of the thing.

But did we feel it?

– David Simons and Ed Burns authors of ‘The Corner& Creators of ‘The Wire

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