My first year living in New England, and Boston is the subject of senseless violence in what is now being referred to with the “t”-word. If I am to apply the seriousness by which my friends in other parts of the country take these events…that is, by which events cause phone calls and text messages to arrive inquiring as to whether or not I am okay…as a litmus test for their level of tragedy, then I suppose I haven’t experienced anything quite of this magnitude since that day on a past September that we all wish had never occurred. Still, those of us in the U.S. now have another day on which we will be able to identify where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.
The 9/11 attacks were particularly dramatic for me as I was traveling by air when they occurred. When the tragedy of Virginia Tech was wrought, I lived only about an hour away. On Monday, I was in class just outside of Boston. My first instinct was to feel what those who orchestrate these events want us to feel: fear. Or, at least uncertainty. I’ve never panicked during these events, but one certainly feels anxious at times.
Now, another moment has occurred in which I want to scream as loudly as I can, “For God’s sake, for the sake of all that is holy, we have to stop killing each other!” Yet, man never seems happy unless we’re doing just that. Often in the name of an ideology, or under the flag of patriotism, or occasionally even in the name of God (which doesn’t make Him happy at all, I suspect), we continue to do exactly that. We ambush, we invade, we attack, we let the wrath of our righteous anger fall.
I’m not sure our anger is righteous, but when we hear that the fatalities of this latest attack include a child, our anger is at least justifiable. And, so, angry we are.
And stern if veiled threats are made from a leader’s podium.
And, days or weeks or months from now, actions of retribution will be taken in the name of justice, and more bodies will likely be added to the count. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll find yet another reason to wage war against someone else.
The cycle will continue, because it’s easier to respond to violence with violence than to take the higher ground. Partly, I think, because the higher ground is obscured in these moments. As I said, our anger is justifiable. It is difficult to see higher ground through such a fog.
Still, that doesn’t stop the cycle.
I’m not naive enough to think that it will stop, though, at least not completely. Sociologically, I see it continuing. Theologically, I see it continuing. Realistically, I know that it will continue. That grim resignation, though, does nothing to lift the weariness that I feel in my soul when I know that more souls have been ripped from our company without cause or reason. I’m so, so exhausted with the weight of the knowledge that human life continues to be taken by other humans.
Karen said to me last night in a succinct moment of realism, “It will only get worse.”
“I know.” I responded. “But that doesn’t make it any easier to take.”