The Boston bombing. The Newtown shooting. Rapes in India and Steubenville. These are the reactions. Numbness. What? Again? Anger. Who did this? Helplessness. I want to help. I don’t know what to do.
Then there’s the feelgoodness. Words from Mr Rogers that help us make sense of it all. Facebook posts from Patton Oswalt that shift the perspective.
Then there are the posts that make you think.
Simon Allison writes about why the bombings hit Americans so hard
. Among many excellent points, he reminds us of what happened after 9/11, the last attack on US soil. Last time, we ended up in two wars and saw worrying changes in our civil liberties. Beyond the shock, it is impossible not to think of how else this will impact our lives.
The lovely Audrey at Uncornered Market talks of 5 concrete ways to take that numbness and turn it into positive forward movement
. It’s about your attitude. Do you choose to trust others or shut down from them? Will you celebrate the good people do instead of focusing on the negative? I, for one, believe Americans are excellent at drawing on the positive imagery in a negative. A quick look through Buzzfeed articles will show you such.
The only thing I’d like to add to these discussions is a call to introspection with a touch of constructive criticism.
Why do these things keep happening?
I saw people posting Monday after the bombing about how it is insensitive to post about anything frivolous. That the Boston Marathon comes first, and yes, for many, many Americans, it most definitely did. My Argentine friends? European? Middle Eastern? It did not show up in their feeds. They continued to post the things the normally do.
Why would an American think everyone should automatically focus only on America?
Furious Pete, a competitive eater — one of my hidden obsessions — and body builder — which only makes the competitive eating more fascinating — posted the following on his Facebook page:
Many responded in either anger or agreement that he would suggest Americans are selfish and don’t think of anyone but themselves and the events that impact them. Some blame Americans for this bombing, saying Americans are only reaping what they sow in relation to wars started by the United States.
I want to be clear in saying that last statement is complete rubbish.
Whoever laid and exploded the bombs caused it. Whatever forces lead them to do so are ultimately their excuses, and there is never a reason for violence against innocent people. Never.
What I think Furious Pete’s status very eloquently underscores is that bombings, war, terror and senseless victimization do not just belong to Americans. England. Syria. Iraq. India. Egypt. Libya. Mexico. Thailand. Mali. Turkey. Those are just a sampling of countries where terror incidents have occurred since January 2013.
Boston is the most recent on the list.
It benefits all Americans to see America as part of the larger world and not focus only on what happens within our borders.
What can we do to stop these things from happening?
I don’t know. I truly have no idea what I could have personally done to stop the bombings in Boston. Like I said, I feel helpless.
I do believe, though, I am not helpless as long as I can have an affect on my immediate environment. This is why I teach. This is a major motivating factor in my work with Cloudhead ART
. This is why I do my best to practice tolerance and give benefit of the doubt. This is why I try to step back from anger as a motivating factor. No good and useful action is borne out of hostility.
It starts with us and our families then spreads to the communities where we live. When we travel and explore the world, we can do the same there.
Travel, by the way, is not the only way to make these global connections. We do it through technology, writing and reading. It is in what we think about and the scope of our daily choices. It is in the realization that there is more in this world than what we currently see.
See more. Learn more. Affect more.
In the words of my good friend Ali, you can only do the best that you can at any given moment with the information you have at the time.
It is on us to expand our boundaries to include more of the world than just Boston or New York, because the more we see, the more we understand and the more opportunities we have to create experiences that lessen and distract from the terror in our world.