A week ago, we all were deeply shaken by bombs exploding at the end of the Boston Marathon. It was a horrific scene in which innocent people were killed and hundreds were wounded. The country stayed riveted as we watched the drama unfold. The president tried to calm our fears and lead us in our mourning. It was a glimpse of people at their very worst and their very best. Much has been said about the heroes of Boston.
Later in that difficult week there was an explosion in the small Texas town of West. Five times the number of people were killed there than in Boston, more people were injured, and a small town was destroyed.
While it is not appropriate to compare tragedies, the disparity between the amount of attention that has been given these horrific events has been startling. One received nonstop coverage in almost every media venue, but, for little West, few outside Texas could tell you the details of what happened and why in the other.
What I want to know is why we obsessed about one tragedy and virtually ignored another. Are we addicted to drama or fear? Does the media, or do our leaders, use our fear to manipulate us? There is relatively little we can do about a couple of bombers determined to do us harm, but what about West, Texas? Could it be that the story of an industrial plant in a state that prides itself on little regulation had to be ignored lest we admit that our greed and addiction to the god of capitalism was responsible for those innocent deaths? Or is it simply that the corporate-owned media would much rather keep us focused on blaming two terrorists rather than notice the corporate terrorism that endangers human life on planet Earth?
Accidents happen, but it is quite likely that the destruction of an American small town and the deaths of its citizens could have been prevented. If the Boston terrorist lives he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and people will cry out for his execution. What do you want to bet that no one will ever be investigated for the corporate neglect that murdered 15 people in West, Texas? Shoplift in this country and you go to prison, but rob millions of people of their savings, their homes, and their retirements in the name of Wall Street greed and you go to Palm Beach with your golden parachute.
Last week we saw terrible tragedies, but the greater one may be that we will learn all the wrong lessons and more innocent people will continue to die each year from corporate greed than from all the terrorists in the world.
by Rev. Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director, Center for Progressive Renewal