At first I was taken aback, but later I realized that she was making an important point. From the standpoint of traditional Jewish theology, the destruction of the Temple is unique among catastrophes, which is why we continue to mourn it in so many different ways. But I was referring to the human tragedy in the book of Eicha, and, gruesome as that is, it isn't any worse than many other catastrophes than have befallen countless peoples throughout history. Those of us who study the past learn to accept descriptions of horrible events as a matter of course. Those of us who study Jewish history may find Eicha even more difficult to relate to, as we've come to see the event it describes as a practically inevitable consequence of regional politics, one of many similar scenarios that were playing out throughout the Near East. More and more, as I read the book of Eicha, that is what I see.
The traditional solution to this would be for me to try to understand the spiritual significance of the destruction of the Temple and the exile of God's presence. But that doesn't work for me right now. Instead, I'm trying to do something much smaller: to hear Eicha in the voice of its authors, people who actually witnessed the brutal destruction of everything they held dear. I can't do this every time I hear about a tragedy; no one can have that much empathy and live. But as a Jew, I can try to connect to this one paradigmatic tragedy this one time a year, with as much of myself as I can.
Last year, I wrote two posts linking to my favorite Tisha B'Av reading on the web, as well as to my own previous posts (link, link). As usual, I recommend Hitzei Yehonatan for both new and old material. (There are two new relevant posts, dated July 16 and 23. Don't get too turned of by the zodiacal stuff.) I also read a nice piece by The Curious Jew about how she relates to some kinot better than others, and I'm looking forward to reading The Velveteen Rabbi's thoughts on Eicha. I'll continue to update if I come across anything worthwhile.
A safe fast to those who are observing it.