I have a cousin who continually inspires me, and who happens to be a life-long Bostonian. She lives close enough to the shootings in Watertown that they woke her up at night, and as I write this, I learn that my brother and his wife can hear sirens surrounding a home in their neighborhood in Cambridge, and they are sheltering a dear friend, evacuated from his home, just two doors from the suspects’ residence. Events of this week have all been so unsettling. One response people may take is to hold on tighter to their prejudices and reactive judgements, resolve to never leave their familiar environs and forsake anything smacking of global citizenship. My cousin the Bostonian, a creative, who adores her city, instead posted this reflection on her Facebook wall as she waits in her home on lockdown for resolution to this horrible and tense stand-off:
I am a world citizen. Humanity is one. No one life is more important than another, and there are acts of brutality, terrorism and war occurring everywhere in the world, every day. I am aware of this and I feel compassion for the suffering that the people of this world are going through, every day. However, this week, it is happening in my home, in the city of my birth, where I live and work, starting with an attack on a beautiful, diverse global event. Friends of mine, including a little boy, were meters away and narrowly escaped injury. About one million of us in the Boston area are on lockdown this morning. This (and much, much worse) is what many people go through as part of their daily life. I think, however, that any one of us would discuss it with great concern and attention if it was happening in our own home. It is possible to do both – to feel compassion for attacks on innocent people around the world, and concern for those near you – and at the same time to refuse to make violence and the loss of life into a competition, or a game of moral equivalency.
Earlier in the week, just after the media turned all it’s attention on the shocking developments in Boston, I was seeing angry posts on social media, that US media ignores the tragedies playing out in other parts of the planet. I responded via Twitter:
Tragedy on a grand scale far away doesn’t take away from real concern, sadness, anger that rush out when we #prayforBoston.
I believe our hearts have the capacity to care about what takes place near and far. This is not a zero-sum game.
As news about the suspects in the Boston marathon bombings and the horrific crime wave later in the same week emerge, we will see more and more connections between a conflict that has been raging far away, in Chechnya, that few Americans paid attention to, and what is happening much closer to home for many of us, in a city and region that hosts more university students than any other — a place filled with intellectual attainment, creative breakthroughs, where people are continually making new friends from near and far, and where trusting parents from all over the world send their bright children.
Just as Bostonians’ grit and determination won’t be deterred as they plan a bigger and better marathon next year, let’s resolve to not let the fury that might have sparked last week’s horror turn us against compassion and connection. We need these now more than ever. Peace.