My heart goes out to all those affected by the events in Boston yesterday. News reports state that about 2:50 p.m. (EST), while thousands of runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon were on the streets, two bombs exploded 100 yards and 10 seconds apart near the course’s end in the city’s crowded Back Bay section. It is indicated that approximately one hundred and forty were injured, over a dozen critically, with three people dead. What a heartbreaking and tragic thing to happen.
I heard of the tragedy in a telephone call from my husband about an hour after the explosions. Like many others, my first response was to ensure any loved ones in the area were safe, and then check the news to find out more. Throughout the remainder of the day images continued to flood in – of injured people lying on a bloodstained sidewalk; of bystanders helping, tending to wounds, comforting others, pushing them in wheel chairs and gurneys; of people running away tearful and panicked; an abandoned camp chair with the pattern of the American flag (representing the very notion of liberty and freedom) lying on the ground splatted with blood. The images evoked intense emotions – shock, sorrow, fear, anger, hatred.
The question resounding in so many people’s heads is why? Why did this happen? For what? Is it the result of having evil people in the world? Or did something provoke the attackers? Is it perhaps America’s characteristics, such as their wealth and power, liberty and freedom, and willingness to stand up to others to fight for what is right, which incites people?
Dr. Ablow is one such person that feels this way. He shared in a statement for Fox News today “Here is the irony: We are vulnerable, because we are free and strong. These qualities attract the ire of those who would have us shackled and weak, who are consumed by hatred for individual possibilities, rather than love for what a free person can dream about and strive for and accomplish.“
Perhaps this is true. Perhaps this is why these villainous people attack this soil. It could play a part in it. But there are other countries that are wealthy (think China, Japan, Germany, and France for those with high nominal GDP); have strong military power (Russia, China, India, and the UK follow after USA according to http://www.globalfirepower.com/); countries who stand up and fight out against injustice and terror (troops from dozens of countries, all of NATO, went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan); and many developed countries experience similar levels of rights and freedoms to America (Canada, Australia, and those in Europe to name a few). Are these countries attacked too? Sadly yes, many other countries have experienced terrorist attacks. Is it for the same reasons? Who knows? And with America being a key global player, are they attacked more than other countries?
According to the Global Terrorism Index based on data from the University of Maryland (http://www.visionofhumanity.org/globalterrorismindex) countries such as American, Canada, Australia, and those in Europe, are actually attacked less than other parts of the world. Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Yemen have been the most affected by terrorism in the past ten years. (I think we sometimes relate less to tragedies in countries we feel less akin to, perhaps disassociate from it. But there are still innocent lives being lost – regular people like you or I, going about their daily lives. Wherever it happens, it is tragic). The data might help to reassure people in certain areas of the real risks though, and from their feelings of vulnerability and panic.
It is hard however not to feel vulnerable after an attack such as Boston. Authorities yesterday urged people to stay inside and avoid large crowds, fearing more explosions or other events. Cities across the country are on heightened security. Indeed cities and events across the world, such as at the London Marathon, which is scheduled to take place this Sunday, and the Sydney marathon in September are on alert. Many people believe this is what these wicked, cowardly terrorists want – to incite fear. We have to stand strong. We do not want them to win.
I know on a first hand basis these feelings of fear and vulnerability. I lived and worked in London during the bombings on trains and buses there nearly eight years ago. Four explosions ripped across central London on Thursday 7 July 2005. Fifty-six people were killed in the blasts and seven hundred were injured. It was terrifying and tragic. In the days following the explosions I chose not to take the bus or train to work (my usual modes of transport) but walk the four miles each-way instead. People on public transport were nervous and especially vigilant of bags and back-packs. But after several days I returned to my usual routine. I chose not to let the terrorists affect my life.
This is one thing I hope people can find the strength to do. To carry on. To not let it scare or have a negative impact on them. We must remember that while these events are tragic they are rare. I also hope we can find strength in the brave and caring actions of those bystanders and uniformed crew who helped others. This wonderful quote by Fred Rogers (American educator, minister, songwriter, author, and television host) speaks volumes:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Seeing the humanity and love in people is what can reassure us and power us on. I also believe if we stop comparing ourselves to other people and countries, or evoking feelings of superiority (see my post on humility), and aim to show more understanding and acceptance of different ways to live, be, and do things, then this will help put an end to these acts too.
With prayers of peace to you all.
As of the current moment, 11 pm MST on April 16th, the authorities have not taken anyone into custody in relation to the attack. They questioned a 20 year old man, but he appears to no longer be a suspect. We are told that there are currently no claims of responsibility. The FBI say the range of suspects and motives remains wide open. Until we know for sure, I believe that pointing fingers and jumping to conclusions is futile and detrimental. I trust that a full investigation will be done and hope those responsible are found and brought to justice.