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The Boston Globe



Public display of civic sympathy leaves a bitter taste

We are all saddened at the murders of so many beautiful innocents by another innocent, if you will — a disturbed young man of that same community. We should all be mourning in some respect for this tragedy. However, I am uncomfortable with the public display of civic sympathy that our city and many others are having around the country.

It seems that we feel for what we can see — young faces and grieving families who look like us. These awful events seem far too frequent, as do the widely public reactions afterward. To me there is an aspect of media-enlarged empathy that approaches a civic emotional overinvolvement, a kind of subtle cultural narcissism, that makes most of us feel better but may actually be unwise and unhealthy. Perhaps it’s even a sort of morbid celebration of a tragedy that really is beyond the normal range of individual and local civic or social concerns.

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