Reflecting on the Boston Marathon Bombing Two Weeks Later

Today it will be two weeks since the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. If you watch any television today, undoubtedly there will be coverage given to all sorts of angles, motives, connections, new details on the suspect, which leads to more interviews, more speculation, more questions, more, more, more.

Now there are particular updates that are needed to be given to the public – that is not a complaint but an appropriate expectation as far as I’m concerned. But like with any news event, I get weary of the constant coverage that is more focused on keeping the viewers tuned in than informing them. I try my best to only watch for the update, turn the channel and when it comes to reading, I try to take in only a few news articles – I’ve concluded long ago that taking in all the details comes at too much of a cost.  As one who enjoys both digital and print formats, I do find myself reading more newspapers these days – the nice thing about them is they have an end and easy to put down. Which highlights the differences with cable news networks that can never end or online news feeds where there is always another search awaiting. I don’t know if that’s of any help to you but I’ve been thinking about my tv consumption over the last two weeks.

We always need to be careful about our consumption – always with everything. So fighting the urge to consume the news in this manner will be part of our day. But if this all we do, well, that’s seems to be wasteful and unwise. We also need to take inventory of how we’re feeling, what we’re doing and whom are we spending our time with and then answer the opposite of these questions like how I’m not feeling, what am I not doing, and who am I not spending time with?

Regarding feelings, admittedly I have been thinking about the nature of terrorism. It’s often after just about any tragedy to hear something along the lines, “This is how people in other parts of the world live.” Of course, there is truth to that, we just need to be careful with what we are seeking with these words.

It’s tricky territory for me, as I always want to be careful about this given my Egyptian heritage of which I am proud and grateful for. On one hand, I think it’s important to create awareness for Coptic Christians, for Syrian and Iranian Christians, Palestinians, for Israelis, and because I know how it works, also for anyone in the Middle East who feels the arbitrary threat of terror whether they be Muslim, Jewish, agnostic, or Christian. But I’ve seen people overdo to the extent that not only does it labor those around us but actually creates distance and apathy – the very opposite of awareness and action. Some times what’s heard is, “Why are you fine and safe while those I really care about suffer?” Certainly that’s unintentional but it serves as a reminder that we may feel like we’re saying this and others might hearing something else.

As we all know, pain is pain everywhere. So is evil, so is suffering and so is death. And so we have to be extremely careful we never demean anyone’s pain. So while most of us in the US do not live in a constant fear of bombings, it’s illogical to trivialize those that have recently suffered from a bombing. Though I am currently living 30 miles from the finish line of the marathon, truth be told, I’m saddened by the news of every attack I hear about, the difference is I only have so much capacity to mourn the evil atrocities committed around the world.

This is true of the nature of tragedy as well. The same week as the Marathon bombing attack was also the factory fertilizer explosion in Texas that killed 14, injured dozens and destroyed nearby homes. Upon hearing that my first thought was, “Crazy.” In a moment of reason we know that factories are dangerous places, we also know that our way of life is extremely dangerous when something goes wrong. I get that. But I’m not sure I’ll ever get over thinking that something that runs like clockwork for years and years, can suddenly lead to death and tragedy so suddenly. That’s crazy.

I was traveling, and trying to keep up with what was going on at home, trying to be present of where I was, I was running out of emotional bandwidth to take in what was happening in Texas. Honestly I couldn’t process all of it – nor do I feel I was meant to. I do think this is why gauging a President’s reaction is futile. Similarly, gauging the Church’s reaction needs careful thought as well. Generally speaking, gauging the reactions of those around us often leads to an unfair judgment.

Clearly I’m feeling all sorts of things, but honestly, I’m glad that I’m feeling something because I think a worse reality would be feeling numb.
Better a broken heart than one that is numb or hardened. Even better is one that is broken and hopeful. The Lord is found in these moments. 
This seems to answer the first part of the aforementioned questions, how I’m feeling and how I’m not.

Will post more soon.  In the meantime, feel free to add your thoughts.  Thanks for reading.

Related Post – Reflecting on the Week of the Boston Marathon Attack.

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