I've been trying to figure out how to express what I've been thinking about the aftermath of Monday's bombing in Boston. So this post may not make any sense, because I'm essentially thinking out loud.
First and most obvious: this is a tragedy, it's horrific, and I can hardly believe that people do this kind of thing. Even though it happens all over the world regularly, and even though more people die on the streets of Chicago every day, I still cannot get my head around the fact that people commit heinous acts of violence. Add in the marathon and it just seems like such a cruel joke: hey, you're such an awesome runner, you qualified for the most famous marathon! And then after 26 miles, just yards from the finish, you lost a leg. Almost as good as a medal, right? UGH. so much ridiculous and horrifying.
But then the news coverage and the conversation that comes after...
And it comes this way after every tragedy. But this time it just seems more blatant.
talking to people in London: "are you seeing runners pulling out of this weekend's marathon? How are you going to secure the course?"
talking to runners: "does this make you think twice about running another race?"
callers to a local radio show: "I won't want my family coming out to cheer, but I'll run again."
over and over, this sense of using this event to determine our future behavior...
This is the DEFINITION of terrorism. Using a tactic that makes us afraid to do things we would normally do, or that we love to do.
I want to know things like: was the marathon the purpose or convenient? (i.e.: it's hard to imagine that someone was all "hey, I know, I'll make a point by blowing up runners." marathons are popular, but it's not THAT popular. and the bombs were set at a time that the "regular" runners (ie not the famous winners) would be affected, near the end of the race) Could it be that the bomber wasn't working out aggression against distance running, but simply used the famous event to get attention for something else? It's also Patriot Day, and tax day, and who knows what other issue might have been affecting him/her/them...let's not jump to conclusions.
But most of all, I want us to think about the questions we're asking, and the ways we're modifying our lives. Especially in light of the fact that 20 dead school children can't even sustain a national conversation about gun violence for a quarter. We are already incredibly reactionary about any number of things, from airport security to water bottles. If we're going to start calling off sporting events, or insisting people not congregate, or whatever...haven't we in fact just ceded all the power to the terrorist?
And once we're considering that language we use, let's include in the consideration the fact that in other parts of the world these things happen every day and people continue to run, work, play, travel, eat, have families, and generally go about life. I'm not minimizing the trauma or seriousness of this event *or of those that happen every day around the world.* I am trying to suggest that our questions reveal a privileged existence: that we think we could get away from the dark side of life, that we believe ourselves protected from the brokenness of the world.
These are the questions of a privileged few. Elsewhere, and in the majority-underbelly of our cities, people are asking "how do we live life to the fullest, follow our passions, feed our families, and care for each other, even in the midst of the suffering?" because suffering is a fact of life. sin and brokenness are a fact of life. Safety is an illusion and the more we cling to it, the more shocked we will be when these things happen.
I'm not suggesting that we ignore security precautions. I am suggesting that we have trusted in them far too much, and it has made us even less secure. Our privilege has made us blind, and ultimately we are far more easily terrorized.
(see, I told you it was thinking out loud and rambling incoherently.)