Senseless acts of violence
Lately, it seems like every week we hear about another suicide bombing, tragedy, or senseless act of violence—Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Turkey, Bangladesh, Baghdad, Minneapolis, Louisiana, and now, Dallas. Scores of innocent lives are lost. It’s hard to grasp what’s happening in our world. It’s even harder to imagine how to stop it.
Sometimes, it appears to be the work of an extremist group, like ISIS, that’s committed to senseless mayhem. Of course, terrorists want to create terror. They hope to disrupt travel, tourism, and commerce. They want to incite fear. In other instances, this violence seems to come from a mentally ill person who has attached their anger and hatred to a cause. More recently, it came from our own police officers, and there are probably many causes for these tragic deaths.
Like most of us, I feel a sense of helplessness.
In the past, terrorism was limited to certain contained areas—Israel, Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the “troubles”, the Mideast, and some African nations. But the world has become smaller, easier to navigate and terror has spread to distant shores, including our own. Streaming video, smartphones with cameras and social media brings the world to us in real time. September 11th fundamentally changed our sense of security and safety. Little has been the same since that fearful day.
Growing up in the 60’s, summers were often a time for unrest and violence as the temperature rose. Riots in the inner city were a seasonal fact. These were times of great unrest. Many things have changed in the ensuing 50 years, but sadly, many problems remain.
Violence in our world was not invented in the 20th and 21st centuries. Human beings have struggled to get along with each other since our inception. But today, we learn about it in high definition streaming video as it happens. Our technology brings us right into the middle of this bedlam as if we were there ourselves.
These events invite reaction instead of response. They invite emotion instead of reflection. They invite blame instead of understanding. We are mad, sad and afraid. We feel helpless and threatened.
So what can we do?
- Don’t let fear stop you from living your life. If I want to do something, I am going to do it, regardless of my concerns about safety. Yes, I am more vigilant in an airport today than I was a year ago. But I am still going to go where I want to go. Otherwise, I am letting the terrorists win.
- Don’t let fear and anger polarize your thinking. I can’t remember a time in my life when political and social views are as polarized as they are today. We have complex problems in our world that will require complex solutions. Building higher walls between us may make us feel temporarily secure, but they do not solve our challenging problems.
- Think globally, act locally. There is much that we can do in our cities and towns to build connection, caring, and community. Citizens of all races and ethnic backgrounds can work together to make our lives better.
- United we stand, divided we fall. We can disagree with each other, but we can also support each other’s right to differ. We can seek to understand others, rather than to be understood. We can search for common ground because it is best for all of us. There is no “us and them”, there is just all of us.
We must find a way to stand together.