Friday, April 19, 2013
Fabulous Friday: On The Bombing
It hasn't been a fabulous week, has it? It's been a pretty horrible week for so many people across this country and around the world. It's been a horrible week for Boston both at the marathon and late last night at MIT, for Waco, for Ottowa where a teenage girl took her own life after a gang rape and subsequent bullying, for all the parts of the world where terror and fear are a daily occurrence, where bombs drop on schools and places of worship and homes of innocent people. It's been a bad week.
At first, I didn't want to write about what happened in Boston this week because what could I say? What voice or perspective could I add to the chorus of voices reflecting on this event? It was a horrible event that rocked and permanently changed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people, that scared a nation and gave rise to blood lust and dreams of revenge in the hearts and minds of many.
And it was also a week that reminded us of the beautiful extent of our humanity. That showed that there are good people, "helpers" as Mr. Rogers calls them, everywhere. That reminded me that for every evil act there are hundreds of good, loving, selfless acts that are happening every moment, every day. All around us. And I did have a thought or two about that.
A few days ago, I read a comment that someone had made on a Facebook post about Boston saying that once these terrorists are caught, we can all sleep again. But, I take issue with that. If we catch the people who planted the bombs in Boston, there will be others. There will be other evil people who want to destroy things, to destroy people, to destroy lives in the name of an ideal, in the name of a faith, in the name of a cause, or simply just because because there are not always reasons, at least not compelling ones. There are not always answers. Just because Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are dead doesn't mean that there will be an end to terror. It doesn't mean that there won't be more attacks on American soil. It just means that they are dead. And this is probably not the right thing to say at a time like this. But, as far as I can tell, it's true.
So how can we sleep at night? How can we believe in safety and justice and peace? I don't know. I think about the teenagers I interact with every day. They know a different world than the world I knew when I was their age. September 11th happened during my freshman year in college. In that year, those kids were toddlers. Their world has always been one where there has been the threat of terror, where, even in America, even at something as innocuous as a marathon, you are not always safe. In this article about the level of preparedness demonstrated by Boston's hospitals, Atul Gawande writes, "What we saw unfold was the cultural legacy of the September 11th attacks and all that has followed in the decade-plus since. We are not innocents anymore." These children I speak of never were innocents. They were never allowed to be.
The thing that allows me to go to sleep at night will not be the knowledge that the people responsible for this atroctiy are caught. And, likewise, it will not be the understanding that I live in a world that is constantly vigilant, constantly ready and able to deal with terror when it strikes, although I do admit that that is reassuring on some primal level. Instead, it will be the notion that the people who spread love, who commit themselves to the service of others, who believe in goodness, who support justice, equity, fairness, and general decency--those people--their numbers are great, their numbers are far greater than those who want destruction and horror. I do truly believe in that.
Just look at your news feed, at Twitter, at the vitriolic comments on news articles, and you will see a lot of finger pointing. Whose fault is that that things like this happen? Who is responsible for fixing it, for making it alright again? I say, we all are. We are all responsible for acting with more love and more generosity of spirit. We are all responsible for thinking seriously and deeply about our convictions, about our preconceptions and judgments, and about our own tendencies toward hate and anger. Instead of feeling like this is an insurmountable burden, this feeling of responsibility for the state of the world, it makes me feel liberated. I feel like I, one person, can do something. I can love a little harder. Be a little more generous. Give a little more. Imagine what would happen if we each did that?
The fabulous thing is that we all have it within ourselves to committ to this, to take responsibility, to do our part. This is completely within our control. It costs nothing.
I will go to sleep tonight committing myself to the cause of love. I hope you can do the same.