Board: Political Asylum
I usually post on the METAR boards, but I think this post is probably political in nature, so here I am, in foreign territory. By way of introduction, I post these things so that my many children will read them – and in the hopes that maybe they will interest others. Often they don’t. So be it.
My daughter has been wrestling with the Boston tragedy, trying to make sense of it – and so have I. There is very little that I could tell her – what follows is all that I could come up with.
Sadly, there is no sense to it. By itself, it is only an act of evil, a meaningless lashing out by one or more lunatics – people who presumably believe they were serving an agenda, but who are merely warped and twisted, their agenda a flimsy cover for mental illness, either acquired through external influence or innate.
And, because the act itself makes no sense, we seem to face the terrible realization that our countrymen and women suffered for no purpose – that the tragedy was meaningless.
Time will tell whether this is an isolated incident or the beginning of something larger. We do not know.
But, whether it is a beginning or an isolated incident, we can do better than just decrying it as a senseless act; we can take another step.
The act itself had no purpose, but we can, by our reaction to the act, give a purpose to the suffering of the wounded and the slain. We can rally around them and their memories; we can honor them, and help them, and remember them, but something more – we can use their sacrifice as a driving force to come together, to find the better part of ourselves that seems to have been lost recently.
The Alamo was, by itself, only a tragedy; nothing more. But when it became a rallying point, a symbol, then the sacrifice of its slain gained a larger meaning and purpose. I am not suggesting a similar, militaristic reaction to Boston, merely pointing out an example where a sacrifice was given meaning and purpose by the reaction of the survivors.
There was a similar opportunity when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, and sadly in my view, we did not seize that moment and use it to become better. And that is a second tragedy – the thousands who lost their lives that day deserve a better memorial, and their sacrifice deserves a better purpose, but in the end we did not (IMO) give them that honor. We reacted with fear, divisiveness and undirected hostility – we became, through our reaction, a lesser country, a country where our fear eroded core principles of our democracy. The Bill of Rights, our respect for our international neighbors – these things suffered because we were afraid.
And how sad that is. The memorial we erected to thousands of slain countrymen was the weakening of the great principles for which so many over the centuries fought and died. Somewhere along the way, we forget how we got here – we forgot the men and women who sacrificed so much for liberty and freedom, a battle that has been fought externally and internally for the entire history of our nation.
We cannot undo the terrible injuries and deaths of Boston, but we can give them a purpose. We can, through our reaction, honor our countrymen who were killed and injured there.
My own reaction is to realize that we must be vigilant; we must be good citizens in the sense of working together to protect the common good. In this new age, this might be a good idea even if Boston is purely the isolated act of a small group of individuals, instead of being part of a larger program.
But, more importantly, let us realize that the victims for whom we grieve were not Democrats or Republicans, they were not Catholics or Baptist or atheists, they were not gay or straight, or black or white – there is no “or;” they were presumably all of those things. And we remember them, and grieve for them, as people, without regard to those labels.
And that is how we can best give this tragedy a meaning and a purpose – we can use it as the impetus to remember that we are brothers and sisters, united in our belief in the principles that make this nation so great.
Perhaps we will face tough times in the days ahead. Our ancestors faced terrible trials, and did not blink; they battled and struggled and worked, and from their efforts gave us a nation founded on principles of liberty, justice and equality. They gave us a Bill of Rights with teeth – maybe the greatest instrument of governance in the history of the human race. And our fear has led us to weaken these great principles.
We should honor the sacrifices of those who came before us, and we should honor those who were injured or died at Boston, by remembering that we have the courage to stand against enemies without sacrificing the principles we hold so dear, and – most importantly --by remembering that we are far more alike than we are different.
This is all that I could tell my daughter. I do not think she understood it, or drew any comfort from it. Possibly I am just whistling in the wind. But, for me, this is how I plan to react to Boston.
A Drumlin Daisy