As much as I hate to admit it, a few years ago I succumbed to the lure of a certain social media website known as Face
Crack, um, Facebook. I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted to it, but I do log on once or twice each day. Yesterday morning was no different. While I was browsing through my news feed, I read a post from a friend that bothered me. I was so surprised by what she wrote that I read it two more times.
Referring to the Boston Marathon Bombing, she wrote that she was happy she never watched or listened to the news. She wrote that she was aware that ‘something terrible happened and someone died – that’s it‘. She went on to write that she didn’t want to know the details of what had happened and even went on to say that those of us that are losing sleep or even (gasp) ‘thinking about this act are giving the devil what he wants!’ Then, her advice was for all of us to turn off our televisions and go on living our lives because knowing all the details of this event was giving the devil what he wants. Oh, and she said we should pray. I sat at my computer looking at her words with complete disbelief. Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not judging her, this is how she feels and I respect that. But it scares me to my very core that there are people like her that feel this way. People that believe we should just pretend something like yesterday’s bombing didn’t happen and go on with our happy lives and say a prayer. In my world, that is not an option. I don’t think we should spend our every waking moment watching the news and all its despair and tragedy – but it is our responsibility to be informed, aware and compassionate to the events that ultimately shape our lives. Ignorance is not bliss people, in fact, if you were to use a family tree as a metaphor, ignorance is the grandfather of fear. And perhaps now we should be afraid – or at the very least, aware and informed.
I think what bothered me most was her comment, “…and someone died”. Actually, three people died, and they have names. They were someone’s son, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s classmate. They were all people who woke up that morning to be part of a wonderful, historical event only to have their lives taken away by some senseless act of terrorism. Perhaps you should stop reading now, according to my friend, I’m doing what the devil wants by allowing this terrible event to enter my thoughts. I’m sure the families of the deceased wouldn’t want you to know about Krystle Campbell, who was only 29 years old. I watched with tears as her grandmother described her in an interview. Krystle’s grandmother said that her granddaughter often went to the see the marathon runners. “She’s been doing it since she was a little girl,” Lillian Campbell said. “She didn’t miss a marathon, watching it at the finish line.”
Then there was the Boston University grad student who was killed by the blasts. All we know about her is that she was from China. China’s consulate in New York announced that she was a Chinese national and at the family’s request, the consulate did not name her. We do know that she was a graduate student in mathematics and statistics at Boston University who was due to get her master’s degree in 2014. She graduated from a Chinese university with a degree in international economics.
And this is what hit me the hardest. A sweet boy who loved the Red Sox and playing in his yard with his sister (who lost her leg in the bombing). His name was Martin and he was only 8 years old, about the same age as my Joey. He attended the marathon to cheer on friends and family. Last May, Martin made a “peace sign” when his school organized a “Peace Walk.” Holding their homemade signs, kids walked around the city making a big statement with a simple act. Martin’s sign simply said, “No More Hurting People”. Martin’s father said this yesterday, “My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you.”
“Calvin: The more you know, the harder it is to take decisive action. Once you are informed, you start seeing complexities and shades of gray. You realize nothing is as clear as it first appears. Ultimately, knowledge is paralyzing. Being a man of action, I cannot afford to take that risk.
Hobbes: You’re ignorant, but at least you act on it.”
How in the hell can we just turn off our televisions and ignore this? It isn’t even in the realm of possibility for me. This is life people. At its worst it is messy, confusing, heart breaking and at times, even horrific. But at it’s best it is wonderful, amazing and beautiful and can take our breath away. We don’t get to just focus on one and not the other. I don’t understand why events like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing take place, just like I don’t understand why my little boy will never walk, talk, sit or stand. The “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, devastating famines in Africa, AIDS and the genocide in Rwanda.
I don’t have an answer to the question, ‘why’, none of us do. But choosing to not be informed or to ignore these tragic events isn’t the answer, I do know that. I also can’t choose to ignore ignorance. You might as well withhold medicine from a very sick patient. Not only will the patient get worse, the disease will spread. Maybe ignorance is a coping mechanism for some, I don’t know. When it comes to life, I’m not a pessimist or an optimist, I’m more of a realist. I see things as they are. I don’t sugar coat anything and I don’t want the information I seek to be glossed over. I cannot pretend something isn’t happening because it might be too painful to acknowledge. Here’s an example using the cliche ‘glass of water’. The optimist sees it as half full and the pessimist sees it as half empty. The realist sees there is water in the glass. The optimist is certain that the water is cold and the pessimist figures that the water is warm. The realist just sees that there is water in the glass. The optimist believes it is good water while the pessimist doubts it will be good. The realist simply sees that there is water in the glass. That’s a very ‘watered’ down explanation, but you get the idea.
So, am I going to change anything about my life because of what happened Monday? No, probably not. I will go to the park today with my little boy and push him around the trails in his wheelchair and watch him as he smiles and closes his eyes when the breeze blows his way. During our walk, I will say a prayer for all who were affected by this tragic event. When we return home and while my son naps, I will work in my garden and I will continue to realize that the world we live in now is nothing like the world I spent my childhood in, and I will grieve for this next generation coming up. This evening I will turn on the news to see what has gone on in the world and then, sometime after 10:00 p.m., I will check on my babies, kiss them both ‘good-night’ and thank God for another day with them. But I will not go on living my life like everything is all right in the world, because my friends, it’s not.
“I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” ~R. Blades