Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Somewhere today, there is a scooter that will stay empty. There is a sink that will escape the toothpaste drops that had so plagued the lady of the house. There is a mom who can blow kisses that no little boy will dodge. Somewhere, an eight-year-old boy is not coming home.
But the most important thing to remember is that the eight-year-old boy who doesn't come home is not really only one eight-year-old boy. All over this country, all over this world, little boys are not coming home. Mothers and fathers rock as they did when they carried their new little baby, only this time their arms are empty and they are the ones crying. The boys may have been taken in many ways. Yes, one boy was taken by an as-yet-unnamed bomber, but others have been taken by car accidents, cancer, and other diseases.
No one misery lessens the other. No one life is more valuable, no loss more more sorrowful.
The difference is in the attitude of those surviving. Some will be terrified. They will feel out of control, helpless, lost, alone. I have been among them at times. I have held my blue baby in my arms and screamed to God for mercy, knowing full well that I have no control over the situation. I have wept those tears. I have watched other parents, other spouses, other families and friends lose. Lose. Lose. Lose.
It doesn't matter if the loss is caused by a madman, a rampant disease, or a genetic defect. It doesn't matter if it happened intentionally, accidentally, or in due course. It only matters that it happened, it hurt, and you couldn't stop it.
Terror happens when you feel alone and powerless.
Terror is a lie.
We are not alone, and we are not powerless.
Take yesterday as an example. Yes, we missed that bomb, but those victims were not alone. Bystanders came racing forward to help, to carry them to safety, and to comfort. Nor was the community powerless. The hospitals were flooded with people donating blood. Individuals in the area offered accommodations to those who needed them. Restaurant owners opened their dining rooms and offered their food to anyone who needed it, regardless if they could pay. Some of those who helped were victims also, people who had suffered great loss themselves, like Carlos Arredondo.
The same is true of other tragedies in life. There are others who have faced the same circumstances, who are willing to come alongside us, hold our hands, and guide us through. No one likes walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but we need not walk there alone.
You see, this is the very important part. We are not alone. We are not powerless. Failure to understand these basic facts leads not only to our own terror but to the committing of terror. Look at the other acts of terror committed on Patriot's Day. Did Timothy McVeigh bomb the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building for fun? No. He did it because he felt alienated (alone) and unable to change the problem within the system (powerless). If the fires at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco were really set by the Davidians, as has been alleged, were they set because the Davidians felt powerful? No. Absolutely not. They were set because they were alone against the perceived enemy and powerless to prevail.
So let us not be afraid. Let us continue to reach out. Let us love our neighbors and treat them as fellow travelers in life instead of as possible suspects. Let the thoughts of our hearts, the words of our mouths, and the works of our hands prove that we will build our community rather than tear it down. Then we will not only alleviate our own terror, we will prevent its perpetuation.