O is for obstacle. Opposition. Oppression. Objection. Offense.
What happened yesterday in Boston has plagued me. My first reaction was shock and disbelief. Then anger, followed by extreme sadness and frustration. Why does this keep happening? Why are people being attacked in movie theaters, malls, churches, schools, and now on city streets during marathons? People's entire lives are drastically altered for no apparent reason. Families losing loved ones, people losing life and limb. People losing all sense of security. We aren't safe anywhere, anymore.
While thinking this current crisis over again and again, I came to the realization that my little "Breaking News" app on my phone goes off all day long about bombings in places in the middle east. Cafes, schools, buses, restaurants, weddings - bombings on a daily basis, killing dozens at a time in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and other middle eastern areas. "7 killed, dozens wounded in blast at school," "19 confirmed dead in car bomb explosion," "bomb attack in restaurant leaves 16 dead, 27 wounded." Those are the headlines I see almost every day as I scroll through news topics. I rarely even stop to consider those stories, other than to shake my head at the state of some nations and give thanks to God for allowing me to be an American citizen.
What Americans and citizens of other "safe" countries are starting to realize is that we are seeing an increase in attacks like this. Massive shootings, bombings, acts of terrorism committed by our own people in our own backyards. After the Newtown shooting my husband and I seriously debated homeschooling our children because the thought of sending them back to school had us gripped in fear while government officials repeatedly assured us that the schools were the safest place for children to be (tell that to the parents in Newtown). Luckily we had two weeks of Christmas break to think it over, absorb the tragedy and let our doubts and fears subside.
The thing that I think is a major contributor to this increasing violence is that we have been desensitized to this type of violence. I'm not knocking the gaming or film industries, but if we're being completely honest, games and movies have grown increasingly violent and graphic over the past two decades. Even television shows portray horrific scenes of death and violence on regular occasions. We've been slowly numbed to the images of terror. Our media is a prime example of the numbing: in yesterday's news coverage, photographers at the scene were leaning over the railings, taking shots of the victims instead of HELPING those injured. I wanted to scream at them "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" They were doing everything they could to get the most gruesome shot. If you google "Boston marathon bombing" there is an unedited photo of one injured man being carried, and both of his legs are missing below the knee. That photo should never have been taken, especially a full shot of the man's injuries. Where's the respect for the victims? Where's the respect for their families? If I had my legs blown off (or some other equally horrifying injury), the last thing in the world I would want would be for my children to see or have access to images of it. I think we can imagine the injuries without seeing graphic photos of them. Now, if they're getting a shot of people going above and beyond to help someone, or of rescue workers running toward the carnage while others are running away, I'm okay with that. We should celebrate heroes and people who help others. Just edit the photo to not include the severed limbs, alright?
With the increasing - and increasingly large and devastating in scale - attacks here on American soil, what concerns me the most is knowing that there are a growing number of radicals living here who are adamantly opposed to some governmental action, law, a certain group of people, government itself or are just crazy, who have access to knowledge, information and weapons that enable them to carry out massive acts of terror and violence in their quest to educate the world or teach someone a lesson. I'm not saying ban guns, because I believe firmly in our rights as American citizens, and if I want to own a gun then by God I'll own a gun. It's just upsetting to know the violence is increasing and there really is very little we can do about it.
O is for overcome.
Despite the horror that was inflicted upon so many people yesterday and in the previous attacks on innocent lives. Despite the knowledge that it really can happen to anyone, anywhere. Despite the fact that we just don't know when or where the next attack will happen (and we can all assume there will be another one eventually). Despite all of that, we are resilient. We were resilient after September 11, 2001 when people all across the country donated money, blood, supplies, firetrucks and themselves to aid the rescue effort. We were resilient when we saw people suffering after the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine High shooting, and Aurora theater shooting when we sent prayers, support, and financial aid to victims and victims' families. We ARE resilient. We will come together as a nation and lift up the people of Boston as they deal with the tragedy that occurred there yesterday. We will offer our prayers, our love, our encouragement and any other help we can provide.
We do this, I believe, because the same feeling of unity that formed this nation over two hundred years ago is reignited whenever one of our own suffers a great loss. The passion that led men and women to fight valiantly for our independence is fueled when we see our fellow Americans hurting. We have overcome, and we will overcome. We will hold Boston's hand, give it a squeeze and assure them that they're not alone.
Prayers for Boston.