Call and Response: Roxane Gay Reflects on Tragedy

Every day, terrible things happen in the world. Every damn day too many people die or suffer for reasons that defy comprehension.

All too often, suffering exists in a realm beyond vocabulary so we navigate that realm awkwardly, fumbling for the right words, hoping we can somehow approximate an understanding of matters that should never have to be understood by anyone in any place in the world.

This is the modern age. When tragedies occur, we take to Twitter and Facebook and blogs to share our thoughts and feelings. We do this maybe, just maybe, to know we are not alone in our confusion or grief or sorrow or to believe we have a voice in what happens in the world.

We are asked these questions as if we only have the capacity to mourn one tragedy at a time, as if we must measure the depth and reach of a tragedy before deciding how to respond, as if compassion and kindness are finite resources we must use sparingly. We cannot put these two tragedies on a chart and connect them with a straight line. We cannot understand these tragedies neatly. Life is a mess.

At The Rumpus, Roxane Gay guides us toward compassion as we navigate the anger, grief, sorrow, and frustration we feel in times of tragedy.

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