A bombing at the Boston Marathon. Another day turned from joy to wailing. Another day of shock and mourning, of heroism and despair, and of people hauling out soapboxes and shouting theories. I went to college in Massachusetts; a critical mass of my friends and acquaintances lives in or near Boston. We’ve spent the day checking in on each other across various arms of social media, making sure that everyone in our wide circle is all right.
And I’ve been struggling, too, with how to react to such horrific news, when even worse happens every day to people I don’t think of, in cities and countries I’ve only heard about in newspapers. There was a bombing in Baghdad, too, that killed and wounded more. It seems there should be a proper way to respond, to balance the immediate grief and shock with the outrage for all the world’s victims of bombings and gunfire. But I don’t think there is, and maybe there shouldn’t be.
We should feel upset when violence ruptures our lives. We should cry out for our close neighbors affected. We should grieve for serenity lost. And it should make us uncomfortable that we don’t cry out when the violence happens to those who are far away, or who look different, or who suffer more often and more gruesomely than we do. We shouldn’t be able to swallow the difference easily; it should stick in our craw.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with grieving sharply for those who are closer to us, while still struggling with the greater losses that happen around the world. The one does not diminish the other.
That’s what I’m grappling with today. So are many of my friends. Tomorrow the healing begins, and we’ll keep wondering where we go from here.