On Thursday, Feb. 20 a fire swept rapidly through The Station, a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Most of us have seen these pictures. They begin with kids pumping their fists and cheering for the band Great White as sparklers erupt on stage. It is impossible to watch the tape without a sickening sense of helplessness because we know how it all ends.
Three minutes later, a third of the people in the picture will be dead; some incinerated beyond recognition. The vast majority of the remaining crowd will suffer injuries in the scramble for safety.
The media often stand accused of coarsening American life, but in this case, a heart-breaking video has inspired the opposite: People from all across the country have begun sending money and offering help to the stricken town of West Warwick, and a nation mourns the deaths of people most of us didn't know.
Democracies foster a sense of community, and Americans over time have developed not just a sense of national destiny, but also humanity. We celebrate life; and we share the grief of others.
Soon enough, lawyers and prosecutors will descend upon the ruins of The Station. But for now, let's attend to the important things: Offer up prayers and whatever help we may muster.