The tragic events that unfolded in Boston, yesterday, and the horrific scenes in the media, remind us that our society is far from idyllic.
Many of the comments I have read on various news websites repeat a few phrases, like: “How can this happen?” and “What kind of sick mind would do something like this?”
SooToday assignment editor Carol Martin posted her feelings on her Facebook page, and responds to the first question.
Regarding the horrifying tragedy of the Boston Marathon... I keep hearing people say, "how can this happen?" and I think they must be living a sheltered life.
In other parts of the world things like this happen sometimes several times in a month. They happen to people going to work on the bus, they happen to people walking to school, they happen to people attending weddings. Things like this are what people do to each other at any given time or place.
But, don't think for a second that minimizes any of those horrors. When seen together, all these horrors paint a very, very ugly picture of humans - especially fanatical humans.
Carol went on to beseech us to recognize that the answer to such violence is not to respond with violence, not to seek vengeance, but rather to live our lives fully with compassion for one another.
She implores us to fill every second of our lives with joy, gratitude and love. If we do, we will be prepared to “step in and be helpers when something like this happens to us or near us. We can also rely on the knowledge that, even in the face of terror, there will be people who help us when we need it. Of this I am resolute.”
I whole-heartedly agree.
With regard to the second question, “What kind of sick mind would do something like this?”, I believe those who ask this question have answered themselves.
It does take a sick mind to deliberately plot and carry out such horrific acts of violence. There are, unfortunately, people among us whose minds are unstable, who experience paranoia and delusion of unimaginable magnitude.
There are also those who harbour such a hatred, such pure a loathing of others that most of us could not begin to fathom.
Whether this was the work of a single individual or the concerted efforts of a group, the results are the same: fear, terror, and destruction.
There are some who are suggesting this was the work of foreign terrorists, and thoughts immediately turn to the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York.
At this point there are no official suspects. Groups that might have been suspected — such as the Pakistani Taliban — have denied involvement.
There is no indication as of yet whether this attack was directed specifically at the Boston Marathon, or was a symbolic attack on th USA.
The scope of this attack is far less of that of the Twin Towers, and also far less that of the bombing of the Arthur P Murrah building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh.
However, all these events, and many other similar ones, do have one thing in common: they demonstrate the depravity and disregard for human life that mark fanaticism.
Whoever conceived this plot and carried it out, individual or group, we must not dwell on the destruction and devastation.
As Carol has stated, we must concentrate our efforts on building communities of respect for one another. We certainly can disagree without resorting to violence, physical or emotional.
Even here on this site we see examples of emotional violence, of people who cannot merely disagree, but feel that they must insult and degrade others for holding a different point of view.
Yes, verbal insults are much further down on the continuum than bombings, but they are on that same continuum.
Insults. Bullying. Fighting. These are all forms of violence.
Again, as Carol suggests, we should not dwell on the negativity of the situation. There is a very popular meme that appears on the internet following disasters and tragedies such as this: a statement by children’s educator and entertainer Fred Rogers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
As I watched the situation unfolding on tv and internet news reports, I initially saw the carnage and the blood-spattered sidewalks. But I was able to see beyond that, and see the helpers: police officers, firefighters, medical staff, and, what was most encouraging, bystanders.
All of them ran toward the carnage, without knowing whether or not there might be yet another explosion.
I have viewed the video taken immediately following the first explosion, showing the second explosion occurring. In mere seconds there are bystanders running toward the scene, pulling away wreckage, and caring for the injured.
Yes, there are those among us who would do us harm.
But if we take anything away from this latest tragedy, it is that there are many, many more people who are willing to do whatever they can to help someone in need.
So, whether the situation is of a magnitude such as the Boston incident; if you witness someone being bullied; if you see someone who needs a door held open...
Please, be a helper.