I’ve made it a habit not to report on a lot of the bigger news events due to the fact that, with so many people writing about them, someone is bound to have already said what I want to, and probably much more eloquently as well. When it comes to something as thoroughly horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, I’m even more hesitant to do so, especially because of how delicate a topic it truly is.
I write this post with a great amount of trepidation, and with the hope that I can add to the discourse that’s resulted from this tragedy.
The following image appeared in my Facebook feed this past Monday, April 15th, and I immediately shared it upon reading it. I did this as a knee-jerk reaction to the sentiment communicated, and in spite of the fact that, as a friend of mine commented, “it says it in a stupid and borderline offensive way.”
On the same day that bombs placed at the finish line of the Boston Marathon led to the deaths of three people and almost two hundred others injured, multiple bombing attacks took place all across the country of Iraq. At least 33 people were killed by explosions, a number of which were caused by car bombs. As the tragedy that occurred in Boston spurred people on to expose what they saw as hypocrisy in the American public, others responded in kind with their own images, posted to imgur:
That was posted the day of the bombings. The very next day another image appeared on the popular image hosting site courtesy of reddit, which set aside the fact that the death tolls in Iraq were larger and instead focused on the context of each event in its respective country:
Taking into account the fact that a bombing that takes place in a war-torn nation will elicit less media attention than a relatively peaceful one, the truth is that we will always be more concerned, alarmed, and directly hurt by something going on in our own backyard than across town. Americans will always be more invested in the lives of their countrymen, and that is true of absolutely anywhere. I’ve watched the news where a small plane goes down in Europe, killing all passengers, and the story is delivered with the words that “a single Canadian was on board.” We all come from introspective cultures.
That being said, what I want to focus on is the idea that what happened in Boston is a reality to many. Last year a mentally unhinged gunman in Connecticut terrorized a school full of children, and we mourned for this atrocity. At the same time children all over Africa have firearms forced into their hands and are forced to kill for a cause they don’t even believe in. The people of Iraq have been living for years with the stark truth that at any moment a bomb could go off, killing them and their loved ones.
As I write this a friend on Facebook writes “Seriously? What is wrong with the world? =(” as she posts a news article about a shooter running loose on the MIT campus. I am not demeaning the terror that the police officer experienced as he was fired upon, or the fear that the students undoubtedly face at this exact moment as they are told to remain hidden indoors. What I’m trying to call attention to is how shocked and disgusted we are as North Americans that these events continue to happen, and how we have long stopped feeling this way about the rest of the world.
When a bomb explodes anywhere and people are killed and injured it is a horrible thing. The second image I posted shares in this idea, but ultimately focuses on the fact that we all deserve the right to mourn our own losses. My suggestion is that we decide to stop doing this.
Any one nation’s, any one person’s, loss should be everyone’s loss. Even if you don’t share in my faith you must believe on some level that we are all somehow connected to one another. If you think this is true then when any one of us is hurt or afraid then all of us should be affected. The people of Boston should not mourn their loss, they should mourn our loss.
If we as a human race can view these tragedies, these despicable acts as a burden on all of us as a whole then we can move towards fixing our problems together. We can become enraged when a young woman is sexually assaulted in Ohio and supportive of a Pakistani girl’s recovery from an assassination attempt. We can agree that these things are wrong and talk about how we can get them to stop.
Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn,” and my heart goes out to those living in the city of Boston whose lives have been shaken, who have had their sense of security taken away from them. At the same time I’m filled with sorrow for the homeless people of Toronto and angry confusion at the innocents killed in US drone strikes.
Countless people, including numerous world leaders, have given their support to Boston, and kept the city in their minds, hearts, and prayers. In the wake of such an unabashed act of terrorism the world empathizes with a nation’s pain and fear. My wish is that the United States would return that sentiment in how it views the rest of the world, and that we, collectively, could view our individual issues as one singular problem. A problem that we can all work on finding a solution to.