In school I was a little bit of a trouble maker. My fear of authority figures was insubstantial compared to my fear of losing my sense of integrity. One year, we were asked by school authorities to stand and pay tribute to those who were lost to the attacks on 9/11. I found myself unable to stand with my peers, because I could not stand with people who choose to focus their sorrow exclusively on the United States. I too was angry and saddened that people had lost their lives to violence. I just couldn’t focus my sorrow on one group of people. I wanted to stand with peers who believed in Martin Luther King Jr’s conviction that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Letter from Birmingham Jail). With no intention of disrespect, I refused to stand until respect was given equally to all those who had been exposed to such violent trauma. Right or wrong, it was my way of paying respect.
Today, I am saddened by the bombings in Boston but no more or no less than I am about the bombings that took place in Iraq, Syria, and Bangui (and others I’m not yet aware of):
Each bombing caused casualty and injury (physical, emotional, mental). Each one caused someone’s heart to cry out in agony. The only difference I can see between the bombings in Boston and those elsewhere is the level to which personal security has been affected.
The West has become far to complacent in their false sense of security. I think this is why so many people are shocked that such a thing could happen. The sad thing is, such tragedies occur daily. It’s just not given the same kind of attention, making it easier to put such things out of mind. Today, though, the West has been given a chance to connect to those far removed from security and to better understand the importance of connection as a means of healing.
In “Boston Marathon Bombings: Death Toll Reaches 3 After Blasts Near Finish Line”, Tim and Lisa Davey share their attempts to shield their children from the gruesomeness of blood and death. Despite their best efforts, the children “saw a lot.” When reading this, I couldn’t help but think of all the pictures and films I’ve seen of Iraqi, Congolese, or Syrian parents carrying the lifeless or maimed bodies of their children from a scene of violence. My wish is that other North Americans gain awareness and develop a deeper commitment to ending such tragedy because no one should have to experience it. My heart goes out to each and every parent who has had their child exposed to the cruelty of humanity’s heart.
From such tragedy, I look for answers. Not about the why. That’s easy. Someone (or group of people) want power. They want to strike fear into the hearts of an enemy, and they feel no remorse in their use of violence. I don’t understand it, but I accept it as one of many hard truths about being human. Instead, I seek equal, honest, and authentic connection with other people to enhance my sense of empathy and my love towards others.
As Martin Luther King Jr states, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” If all people are to be free of the fear of violence for the sake of power, love is the only answer.