Have we always been so cruel?

I know it is in our nature to look for an explanation for tragedy: Is it “God’s will?”, or “the evil of man?”,  or “that terrible rock-n-roll music?”

But, it still takes my breath away when we blame the victim(s) in an accident.

For instance, I just left my 11-and-8-year-olds downstairs making scrambled eggs so I could help my 9-year-old with the shower. If one of my children is terribly burned, how quickly will someone blame me for leaving them alone? (“She left her babies near a stove?!?!”)

After I stopped working to become a stay-at-home homeschooling parent, I’d hear comments like, “I could never let a stranger raise my children” every now and then. I always wondered, “Do they know that I let strangers “raise” my child three days a week so I could work an hour away?”

Do they know that I’d left my kids with a babysitter for a much-needed night out with my husband, only to find out later that this person was in no shape to be watching my very-young children. . .so much so that her mother called me afterward to say that her daughter was not “well” enough to do any more babysitting?

Do they think about all the children who get on a school bus each morning, or get dropped off at preschool, or go behind the doors of a gymnastics class. . .how vulnerable they are every day? Or do they tuck their children under their arms and take them everywhere, never letting them out of their sight?

I read last night’s horrific story about a nanny killing two young children with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. That this poor mother returned from taking her 3-year-old daughter to swim lessons to find her other two children bleeding in a bathtub is one of the worst things I’ve ever read. I dare you to read a news article about the screams the neighbors heard coming from that apartment and not be haunted by them.

Except some people weren’t haunted. They wanted to blame someone. And while the nanny seems like the likely person to blame, some blame the mother. How dare she have a nanny and “let someone else raise her children”? Serves her right for being wealthy and leaving her kids with a “stranger”?  Some even make this a political point as if this is a debate topic.

I realize the internet allows for a certain amount of anonymity so people feel “free” to make comments they would never have the guts to make to a person’s face. They may even feel they are raising important “issues”.

Though, make no mistake, they are not making some grand statement that needs to be heard: People who say this kind of stuff are assholes.

Have we always been so cruel? I suppose we have been. . .it just used to be easier to stay away from people like this. Now, with the internet, they seem to be everywhere.

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My heart goes out to the shattered Krim family. 

Comments

  1. So true, so disheartening, so awful. We use these excuses as a way to push tragedy and loss away from ourselves, as if that very act can somehow be strong enough to keep harm out of our own families’ lives. Wisdom is a scarce commodity these days, and the more we lose wisdom, the less prepared we are for the darkness that will land on our own doorstep. I bow my head for that family, and pray that they are able to find their peace and forgiveness for a pain that will never leave them. : (

  2. It’s disgusting, isn’t it. It seems like we as mothers, parents, HUMANS, should come together and support this family, even virtually in what will be the absolute worst time in their lives. I think it’s a reflex, a “this won’t happen to me, because” moment. It’s still inexcusable.
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    • Christina says:

      I hope that family is being surrounded by so much love right now. That mother is going to need so much support—I think I’d crumble away to dust from the shock of it all.

  3. Anna says:

    i think about it a lot too – like the judgemental people who focused on “who takes a young child to a midnight movie,” instead of on the horrible crimes that happened inside that theater.

    i’ve come up with it being a toxic combination of the anonymous nature of the internet and people’s fervent desire to believe it couldn’t have been them, though of course every day it is just that some people’s worst nightmares happen while the rest of us get to go along with our lives with nothing more to do than judge that person and their choices instead of feeeling compassion that they are the one that had the 1 in a million happen to them.

    on a much brighter note, the internet also brings out the absolute best in people who rally to help those in need and during times of tragedy. i am forever inspired by those many acts of kindness i have seen play out in online communites, especially with bloggers.

    so there’s that.
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    • Christina says:

      Anna, you are so right—I’ve also seen such wonderful community on the internet—it’s unfair to paint it all in an unflattering light. I should go back and think about those moments now and remember how much good has come into my life through the people I’ve met online.

  4. Issa says:

    When the guy shot up the movie theater here earlier in the year, way too many comments were about how horrible the people who had kids there were. A man walks into a theater and shoots everyone and the person to blame is the couple who brought their six year old to the movie for her birthday wish? REALLY? It makes me wonder about humanity.

    I have this theory though. People want to find blame. Because if you can place blame on someone and say you’d NEVER EVER do that (that being irrelevant, because there is always a different that), than you and your children are safe.

    It’s easier now with the Internet for people to sprout opinions in a moment of panic, fear or anger. Things they’d rarely say to someones face. Things they may not actually believe the next day. It’s too easy. Shit…look at any YouTube videos comments. People don’t think before they type and it’s sad. It’s stopped me from reading comments most places. I just don’t allow myself to do that, because then all I think about it the comments, not what I read.
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  5. Erin says:

    I agree. It’s a horrible situation and the only one who should be blamed for anything is the person who perpetrated the crime. This isn’t the time for that kind of sanctimonious “holier-than-thou” crap.

  6. Hillary says:

    I don’t care if the mom was making mac & cheese in the kitchen while the nanny helped out or if she was a continent away on a business trip. This is horrifying. Reading that story broke me heart. I have there kids, 8,5, and 2 and a nanny who helps us out 25 hours a week. Just too close to home. Reading her blog and all her sweet comments about her life with her family. Just heartbreaking.

    Ppl love to judge parents. This is the worst kind of tragedy and the fact that anyone would even think to blame the mother or father is just sad. I’m sad for everyone. I’m so sad for this family.

    • Christina says:

      And, I would imagine that to many families—it is so much more comfortable (and safe!) to employ a nanny regularly than scramble for a baby sitter whenever they need it. Her blog? Heartbreaking. I cried over so many of the photos. She obviously LOVED being a mama.

  7. Thank you for this post. It’s incredible how people will use any incident, no matter how fresh and on-going and horrible, to attempt to make a point.

    In addition to the obnoxious examples you mention, there are so many ugly things being said about the women (mostly women) who leave behind their own children in other neighborhoods and countries to take care of ours. The racist and classist vitriol I’ve been hearing angers me much more than the anti-working-mom conversation.
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    • Christina says:

      I had a friend pass away unexpectedly a few years ago, leaving the father alone with two very young kids. He hired a woman from Brazil who came here to find work so she could provide for her own children (she was a widow as well). She was, quite literally, what saved that family from despair. Those girls loved her and I couldn’t see them without tearing up—she was a gift to that family.

      I think some people forget that our country is made up of millions of people who came here from other countries to make a better life for their families. The racism that is directed toward new immigrants is just awful and very short-sighted.

  8. Mrs. Q. says:

    What? I am horrified and so not able to read that story. The idea that people could blame a parent for such a crime, is beyond sad and sick. It takes a village to raise children. We don’t need them coming at us with pitchforks and torches every time something goes horribly wrong.
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    • Christina says:

      Yeah, you probably shouldn’t read it Karen. I couldn’t sleep. The brunette oldest daughter, blond middle daughter, and sweet youngest little boy hit a little too close to home for me.

  9. Deb says:

    I agree 1,000 percent. It’s just people trying to convince themselves they’d never be the victims of such a tragedy. I think we, as a species, have always been this way. But the medium for telegraphing it to the world has become ever easier and anonymous (or “just a name”). Sigh. Hug your kids.
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