Boston Bombing : How Will We Respond?

My mind went directly to my friend Lee and her family who I knew were in Boston so that Lee could participate in the Marathon. Lee had been an important mentor to me when I was a teen, one of the adults who treated me with respect and like an equal... that's so important.

When I finally had an opportunity to text, I first went to Facebook and saw what I was looking for; at the top of my news feed was a post from Israel, Lee's daughter, informing everyone that they were all okay.

I want to humanize this blog about Boston, set it in real flesh and blood. People who were loved lost their life that day and millions, like me, scrambled to find out if their loved ones were okay. It was a horrific event. I don't want to minimize it or trivialize it and I want to make that clear before I go on.

Obama's speech in response also humanized the incident.

"Our hearts are broken for 8-year-old Martin -- with his big smile and bright eyes. His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for -- with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event. And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy -- forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: “No more hurting people. Peace.”

No more hurting people. Peace."

I couldn't help but to think of my own son, also a huge Bruins fan, who loves sporting events (and I love taking him). The loss of Martin hits home for me and I am choked up by his dream and wish that he expressed on the blue poster board all the more because his life was taken by an action that was completely the opposite.

I like Obama's speech (the full text of which can be found here). My other favourite piece, beside's talking about Martin, was this; "You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love."

I was fortunate to hear a letter from Lee describing her experience and thoughts about the events in Boston. There was a theme; there is a lot of hate in the world, but there is MORE LOVE. We must not lose sight of the good. There was also great courage and great love that arose from the crowds in Boston one week ago. Hundreds of people who were volunteering time to encourage and support and care for racers, in a mere moment were transformed into volunteers who were caring for the wounded and hurting and dying. People dropped everything they were doing to not run away from the disaster, but to run towards it and lend a hand. That is the compassion and love Obama is talking about!

I fear though that these sentiments  will become only political rhetoric, although not intentionally I believe. Even worse, I fear they lead only to hypocrisy.

The manhunt is over, one suspect is dead, one is captured and the response from the general public and many in power has been anything but compassion in the face of cruelty. There is a desire to see this young man executed and even worse. Comments from young Canadian politician Justin Trudeau that we ought to look at root causes and make sure not to further marginalize those who already feel alienated were berated by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who only seeks to punish and not look for 'excuses'. Is execution responding to cruelty with compassion? Is this young man without the capacity for change? The sad reality is, most people wouldn't even want to give rehabilitation a chance, "He doesn't deserve it!" would be the easy answer, "He killed a child!" And so the beautiful words become rhetoric because we don't want to respond to cruelty with compassion, we would rather add violence to violence than to save and comfort and heal.

Something terrible has been done, there are people responsible, but to respond with hate and malice and desire for blood is NOT to rise above these actions of hate and fear, but to increase the hate and increase the fear. I'm not suggesting that if he is found guilty we set him free. I am suggesting that in the actions we take in the event of guilt that we ought to consider how compassion and love play a role in our response. If we don't, the words of Obama are mere rhetoric.

And then there is the hypocrisy.

Of course it is true that on a global scale, the events in Boston are small. Many more are dying daily from far worse explosions, many more dying of poverty. However, this ought not to diminish our sorrow for the events of last Monday. Yes, we are geographically biased and we tend to paint things are far more tragic when they occur in America. But the events were tragic, they deserve our tears.

4 months ago, in the moments of unbelief that followed the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School it was reported that U.S. military drones have murdered 176 children in Pakistan alone. 176 little Martins in one country alone. It is not the fact that we grieve the death of one child in Boston that angers me, that is the right thing to do, and I grieve his loss as well. It is not the fact that we focus on domestic tragedy and basically ignore it internationally that is my main concern. It is the utter and absolute hypocrisy that treats someone who kills a child with an explosion like he should be tried as an enemy of the country and strung up by his toenails, when WE DO THE SAME THING!

If you want to take a stand against killing children with explosions then STOP KILLING CHILDREN WITH EXPLOSIONS!

If you want to take a stand for compassion, healing, friendship and love, then DO IT! The same week as all of this, the American government denies possible legislation making it more difficult for people to own a gun in the United States. It is not compassion and love that we see when the pro-gun agenda holds the sway of power in America.

Part of me wants to believe that Obama means his words, that he, as an individual would like to see a society that chooses the good, chooses compassion, chooses to save and to comfort and to heal, chooses friendship and chooses love. However, current actions show that it is only rhetoric. Current actions show that it is hypocrisy. The United States doesn't choose love, nor does Canada. We haven't chosen love in the face of cruelty, we are not choosing it now.

But we can...

That would be BOSTON STRONG; united by love, choosing compassion, running this race together.

No more hurting people. PEACE.

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