The news was terrible. So unexpected, so sudden. A poisoned disruption in the normal flow of the everyday. It reminded me of September 11. It was all over the news. It was all over my heart.
What do you say to death when it comes knocking at your door for your loved ones? Ready or not.
I hurt for the people in Boston. I asked questions on their behalf. I turned myself inside-out to understand the senseless. I sent up prayers for them, like incense coiling all the way up to heaven.
I stationed myself in front of the TV to hear more, to share the sorrow, to feel connected somehow. That is when another bomb struck. This one hit closer to home. this one unravelled me because it hit me square in the chest – that place where I keep my love for all mankind. It exposed my hypocrisy, my favouritism & my double standards. I looked away in shame, the little pride I had left blown to smithereens.
There had been explosions in Iraq. 9 people had been killed. There had been an Earthquake in Iran with 40 people dead. But somehow what was happening in Boston seemed more tragic than these tragedies.
Was it because America is supposed to be the bastion of peace and civilisation where these things shouldn’t happen & the Middle East, on the other hand, is where people blow themselves & each other up? At least that is the picture the media consistently paints for us.
Is it because tragedies in these faraway places like Iraq, Afghanistan & Sudan happen all the time & so we have become accustomed to hearing about them to the point that it does not shock us?
Is it because Americans are more human than those, those Middle Eastern people?
We don’t think so. Of course not. But our actions often betray us. My actions definitely betrayed me.
I switched off the TV. I needed air. I needed to think. I needed to hide away from this confrontation.
Those people intimately involved in these kinds of tragedies need to be focused on their healing, I agree. But those of us who stand somewhat apart ought to be genuine & sincere in how we value human life. how we honour human life.
I’m sure that Iraq mother who lost her baby boy in the blast did nothing to deserve the heart wrenching cruelty of angry men. In the same way those runners did not deserve to lose their limbs & lives. The whole thing is unfair & it does my head in.
I sat quietly & took in long, deep breaths that satisfied my need for air. & with that came the clarity;
The contexts are different but losing a life in a little village in the middle of the Ituri forest is just as important as a life lost in any major city in the world – naturally or tragically. This is something we have to be conscious of. Actively & willingly. Otherwise we become callous and insensitive to tragedies that do not pass a certain bar. & that bar involves what George Orwell eloquently captured in Animal Farm;
“all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”
You don’t want to go there. Instead you want to go here;
Not all tragedies are the same but every human life is valuable.