Monday wasn’t a good day.
I honestly was not sure if I would write about Boston or if I would proceed with business as usual, but I think I need to take a moment to stop and reflect.
I spent most of Monday in a programming haze and didn’t come up for air until 4pm when I flipped on the radio and heard everything. The little red haired girl had a similar day, getting work done for the church and running all over town, so it ended up being me who first told her. As we listened to Brian Williams later in the evening it was clear that although the death toll was comparatively low to some of the other horrible events we’ve seen (even in the last year) that wasn’t the true cost. The tales of amputations and lacerations brought to mind bombings in another part of the world, not something that was supposed to happen here.
Not that this should be happening anywhere.
Frankly I feel a little ashamed. Jo Eberhardt in Australia wrote a beautiful peace on how events like this affected her and how she moves forward. I’m not sure I’d have the same reaction to a bombing in Australia, let alone the Middle East, or Syria. Well, maybe now that I have some friends and fellow bloggers in those parts of the world, but I’m not going to pretend I’m always paying attention.
Dedicated NPR listener that I am, I tend to switch to music if the topics become too serious on my drive to and from work, and I tend mainly to focus on technology stories, supreme court cases, or politics. I don’t watch the nightly news, ostensibly because I am working on “the book” or spending time with the wife. But the truth is, I don’t want to depress myself after a long day at work.
But weirdly when something like this happens I find myself drawn to traditional media. I’ve always liked Brian Williams, especially when he lets Jon Stewart poke fun at him on The Daily Show, but I also think he’s as close to an impartial journalist as we can get, besides a few of the reporters at NPR. I watched the news for an hour on Monday, then I switched it off and watched Hitchcock to get it in the mail for our Netflix queue.
And I’ve been staying away from Facebook.
There are some great outpourings of love, support, and prayer. There are quotes from Fred Rodgers, but I think I was out when I saw the kittens praying for Boston. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong to express yourself in this way. If it helps you or others to deal with these events, then by all means go ahead. Me, I need to hide in my office for a bit, or blast something heavy and electronic on my car radio (currently Archive’s Controlling Crowds).
I’ve been listening to old SNL’s lately. In addition to the rise of some of the classic cast members like Will Ferrell and Daryl Hammond, it’s reminded me of what was going on when I was growing up. There was Waco, the OJ murder, and the Olympic bombings of 1996 (which are being evoked in the media now as a way of reminding people how long the investigation might take). There was the Oklahoma City bombings, and of course 9/11.
I’m remembering all of those days, not only the events themselves, but the ordinary things that were going on in my life at the time. Having my friend Chris (who thankfully is safe and was not in the part of Boston where the explosions were) over for pizza after Oklahoma city. Getting together with a girlfriend on 9/11, and going home hoping Mom had heard the news so I wouldn’t have to tell it to her. And I remember the concert we sang after 9/11, how my choir director was the first class to turn off the TV and have us sing America the Beautiful.
There will be national unity, and then there will be partisan bickering. We saw it a few months ago with Newtown. We’ve been seeing it while we’ve been growing up. And it can be hard. It can be hard not to let events like this become a weight, something to discourage you, something you need to hide from. It’s hard not to be cynical.
But I don’t want to be.
There is goodness in people. Good outweighs evil. God is greater than the evil of this world. I know this to be true in the quiet moments of reflection and prayer. In writing.
I want this post, these moments, these thoughts to be my prayer. Prayer for compassion, for faith, and for empathy for more than just the problems of this nation. I pray for strength, for knowing that God is good, and for not sounding too much like a nut, but nut enough to write it to all of you. I pray we all find comfort in these hard times, those of the last few days, the ones we’ve grown up with, and the ones that are to come.