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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Enzymes

Thank you to everyone who left comments or sent e-mails in the aftermath of yesterday's bombings. Your concern meant more to me than you will ever know. As several bloggers have already suggested, I hope you will channel you concern into ongoing support for Magen David Adom (Red Star of David) in Israel by going here or here.

One common aspect of the comments/e-mails was particularly gratifying: Many of you said that you thought of me when you heard the news about the attack in Beer Sheva. Personally, I was touched by the concern of friends and even strangers for my safety. But as an Israeli, I am relieved that people outside of Israel hearing of an attack here are beginning to see more than 'just another bombing' and 'X numbers of casualties'.

When a ferry capsizes in Bangladesh resulting in staggering loss of life, I find that I have trouble personalizing the tragedy because I don't know one person in Bangladesh.

When I read about the genocide taking place in Sudan, I am horrified by the numbers... but for the same reason, the numbers themselves prevent me from connecting on a molecular level with the essence of the tragedy. Again, I can't put a name or face with one person in Sudan.

So why the odd title for today's post?

Enzymes are proteins - biological catalysts, actually - that help the body digest and absorb otherwise inaccessible substances. I chose this title because, if nothing else, my journal will have done the one thing that all the news stories and political commentary invariably fail to do: Help the reader digest and internalize the real personal tragedies behind the news.

There are quite a few people who stop by treppenwitz on a regular basis who are either not Jewish... not particularly interested in Middle East politics... or who would probably otherwise feel about a bus bombing here the way I do about a tragedy in some remote country like Bangladesh or Sudan.

Being able to put a name and a face with a living breathing human being here seems (for many) to have acted as an enzyme... making the information more accessible, and therefore more real.

Unfortunately, not all substances that enzymes allow us to digest are particularly good for us... and in fact many can make us quite sick. But in a world where we are becoming increasingly resistant/immune to the horrors being perpetrated, I think it is important to occasionally allow something to make us sick.

If that is the role that I sometimes have to play... that of an enzyme which allows a distant reader to digest, and become sickened by unhealthy information... than so be it.

Posted by David Bogner on September 1, 2004 | Permalink

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I've been participating in a discussion over the past couple of days at Treppenwitz about issues of blame and responsibility around terrorism. I'm not going to recap the conversation, you can go read it if you like. What I want [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 9, 2004 1:29:38 PM

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Great points! As a lesbian I try to do the same thing on my blog - to put a face on a lifestyle I'm aware that even in this day and age not everyone knows the reality of.

I believe it's important and helps tremendously to put a real person to a group. That's just one of the many reasons I love reading blogs, learning about people I might not get the chance to talk otherwise.

Posted by: beth | Sep 1, 2004 8:05:24 PM

Great title pick, for two reasons: I'm a biologist, and I zeroed right in on it - and because it was perfect for your post. Thank-you for exactly that. I don't find it hard to put a face on things in the ME, but you make it that much easier and REAL.

Posted by: maura | Sep 6, 2004 9:18:35 AM

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