Right when we thought the dark days were over–when we thought that Newtown was as tragic as it could get–Monday happened in Boston, and then Wednesday happened in Texas. We were still mourning, expecting to find the people responsible and to find real justice, but then last night happened: shots in MIT and shootouts in Watertown. With my family living in Boston, I find all I can do is write how I feel over the events that have transpired over the last week–it’s the only thing that’s keeping me somewhat sane.
With all the deaths, injuries, and explosions that occurred this week, one thing that has been constantly going through my head is contemplating the current state of the world. With Newtown and Boston both happening within a few months of one another, I’m beginning to question how safe we now actually are. When we have to fear sending our children to school, seeing a movie, or even going to a sporting event, I can’t help but think that no space is really safe anymore. These last several months have proven to me that we are living in a world of unpredictable violence, but I’m also beginning to realize that this isn’t anything new. The only thing that is new is that we are finally able to come to terms that, maybe, life can’t be so easily taken for granted. That, perhaps, life is more fragile and delicate than we ever could have imagined, and to allow ourselves to be governed by violence is to allow ourselves to admit defeat.
In no way to diminish all that has happened–because these really are some of the darkest days this country has seen in a while–but for so long, people have lived their lives being governed with the same unpredictable and random violence we’ve had to experience this last week. It was that same random terror that killed Emmett Hill, Treyvon Martin, Rodney King, and so many others who lived in a constant fear that one wrong mistake would be their death. So often do people–usually poor, usually of color–navigate through a world where every step, every word, and every breath of air could be their last. This is the world so many people are victims to, and the world that so many people meet the unfortunate outcome of dying in. This is the same world that so many of us never acknowledge, because it’s a world most of us will never have to transverse.
I mourn for Boston because this isn’t the way we should learn how to empathize with others who are less fortunate. When hundreds of people are hurt and killed, it’s hard to see the silver-lining from such an event, or to see it as the necessary path to allow us to grow in.
What gives me hope, though, is that although what happened in Boston was unusual, it was not original. As horrible as those bombings were, Boston does not stand alone from other tragic events in the history of this country. The world we are living in now–a world of unpredictability and random acts of violence–is the same world we have always been living in. As rare as the marathon was, too often before have our isolated bubbles been burst. Too often has violence tried to govern us through fear. Before Newtown and Boston, there was Aurora, Virginia Tech, 9/11, Oklahoma City, Waco, Columbine, and many other tragic moments that awakened this country’s consciousness to what is real: that violence is everywhere, and it doesn’t just effect the small few, but everyone.
I’m not saying to look at these events as solely a moment to begin to count our blessings while others are still grieving, because that becomes way to individually oriented. We first have to look at these events–however tragic and soon it may be–and see the potential for us to grow. Now is the time to learn the cost of violence–domestically as well as abroad. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also begin to appreciate the lives we have, as well. When we start to understand that everywhere and everyone can be a victim to terrorism, we have to start to understand and appreciate the lives we have, as well as those we love.
Looking back at this past week, I’m starting to realize that we won’t live forever, death is unavoidable, but knowing that it can come sooner than we expect puts more joy and meaning into those moments we do have, and proves how strong and resilient the human spirit is–that no matter how dark the days may be, we will never give up smiling, laughing, and loving one another.