Deeply Tragic

Written by Anthony Douglas on 23 July 2017.

JustineThe story that absorbed our media this week was the horrifying and absurd death of Justine Damond in Minneapolis. It’s easy to understand why. She sounds like she was a lovely woman to know at any level, and she was only a matter of days away from marrying the love of her life. She is an easy victim for us to sympathise with, and the fact that she was shot by the very police she had called for, while seeking to look after a stranger, only added to the pathos.

It is without doubt a terrible tragedy, but I fear that the scale of the tragedy has been missed, many times.

For a start, I think we should be grieved that Justine’s death has become a ‘story’ - a media event, a topic for making conversation, a political football in the making. Any death deserves more respect and compassion than that. Many people are genuine in their grief, but there are also many who are just curious about the latest story.

Then we should ask why Justine’s death garners so much attention, when there have been 540 people shot dead by police in the US this year before Justine. Is it the novelty of her Australian nationality? Is it because she is a white woman who was just trying to do the right thing?

But the deeper tragedy in this is that Justine’s life has been cut short. By rights, she could have expected many more years. And the question that we’ll never hear in the press is the most vital one: did she hear the gospel? To rob someone of their life is criminal; to rob them of their chance at eternal life is infinitely worse.

Our society fears and abhors death, but tragically chooses to forget the peril of the second death - and this may be the deepest tragedy of all.

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