The events unfolding in Boston have been shocking. Such terrible tragedies, changing lives forever and creating such lasting pain and anguish. My first reaction is disbelief, then I try to frame it in some way. Then the roller coaster of feelings: real sorrow for those most affected, then a kind of detached curiosity when surfing for more information, then fear that this could become more and more common, then feeling the senselessness of the whole thing.
Eventually we arrive at the question of: who did this? Do we pause to think of why do we want to know that?
The pattern has been to find out what country they are from and what religion or cause they follow and train our anger and emotion on that other.
This focus on the other who did the terrible acts temporarily relieves our pain, sorrow and discomfort. It gives us a feeling that we are striking back, taking out our anger on the evildoers. Wars even start as a result.
Then time goes by and life returns to the new normal. And we repeat the process the next time young men (from a country who follow a cause) kill innocent people. They are always from a country and they always have some cause that they are trying to advance….and they are invariably young men.
So we have a choice in our response: We can take the “find the other” and demonize and attack them approach. Which seems to just create more others Or we can understand that the young men of the world need help. They need to be connected with. They need to be mentored. It is time to take a step forward.
If you are reading this and feel any of these same things, it might be time to connect with a young man. It is so hard to imagine that a brief conversation with one person could affect change in the world. But if everyone had a brief conversation and brought more connection (not Facebook connection but hand on the shoulder- look in the eye connection) and meaning to someone’s day, what would be the effect?
I am feeling more and more that the distance between me and the bombers travels through actual people. What I mean is that we are probably not going to get the most troubled individuals into a mentorship program. But we just need to support the guy across the street in his quest to become a better man. Then he in turn helps and embodies something that his nephew picks up on then the nephew is more of a leader at college and connects with others there and so on. The small empowering gesture flows through networks of people and affects many down the line.
It’s nearing the weekend. As we continue to pray and send healing energy to the Boston and world community that is on fire, let’s also work in a few minutes to walk some good across the street.