How Safe Is America: Why is it a competition?

April 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

When I first read Desiree Taylor’s “How Safe Is America?,” I certainly had a few different opinions on it. After reading it, I just sort of brushed the first part of the essay off; that is until we discussed it in class. It was made aware of the blatant fact that she is judging this woman, who just came from the wreckage of 9/11. She judges her on her clothes, and her hair, and well, to put it simply, who the hell does that? Let’s think of it in a more common but still very realistic and devastating situation. Imagine you just witnessed a car crash and you stopped to the side of the road to check on everyone involved, call 911, what have you. If you had any sort of consideration for your fellow human beings, I don’t think you would pull someone out of the wreckage and think, “Oh wow, just look at that God awful sweater he/she is wearing. How dare they?” If someone did think that, well, they have other problems on their hands other than thinking how safe this country may be.

Going along with this idea, I am not the biggest fan of comparing one fear to another. This is something that people I used to hang around did all the time. We all had something “wrong” with us and our lives weren’t the best, but people seemed to want to make it into a competition of who had it worse. Even then I just wondered, why are we doing this? Why are we making this into a competition? Does anything really get accomplished if we just fight about who has it worse, or instead are we just going to join together with the pure fact that we all have something wrong with us and try to make it better? It seems that in this essay, Taylor is doing just that, trying to make it seem like some people’s problems are less important than others. Coming out of a burning, broken tower is a huge deal. And so is barely able to stay afloat in life. So why are we discussing who has it worse and why aren’t we just trying to make it better for everyone?

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§ 2 Responses to How Safe Is America: Why is it a competition?

  • ihowells says:

    I like your response to this essay. i had a lot of the same reactions when reading this essay. I think when someone is trying to explain their struggles, it is not right to degrade someone else’s and say ones harder. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.. only worse. Usually when i read these essays i feel drawn to the persons story, but for the first time i felt repulsed and uninterested in learning of her struggles.

  • The concern you have expressed, Nicole, is often referred to as “hierarchies of oppression,” when people seem to be in competition to make their oppression seem more profound than others. Participating in comparing these hierarchies often doesn’t get people very far, and go a long way toward limiting solidarity between various groups working toward a common goal. However, I don’t agree that Taylor’s essay is meant to invoke those hierarchies, but rather she seeks to draw attention, in a provocative way, toward the significantly larger numbers of people affected by violence everyday in America that we do not deem worthy of sympathy or notice. But I understand, I am a minority in terms of my interpretation of this essay, and so I appreciate you and Ivy’s points.

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