Difficult Questions I
In his address to the nation, particularly to the grief-stricken city of Boston, President Obama said, “On days like these, there are no Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans united in concern for our fellow citizens,” echoing a sentiment shared by Robert Kennedy, decades earlier, in a speech made after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
“This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.” - Robert F. Kennedy
When Kennedy acknowledges that “when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies,” he brings to light a powerful issue that remains a problem today. That problem is that we “look at our brothers as aliens” and our religious, cultural and political differences shade our eyes to the biggest and most important commonality of all: the bond of humanity. Monday’s events show us that the world is still in a state where people and governments meet differences with aggression and seek justice through senseless and unnecessary violence.
The 29-year old woman from Medford, the 8-year old boy named Martin and the Chinese BU grad student who were tragically killed in the explosions were not the only deaths that occurred yesterday. I stress the sensitivity of the topic that I have begun to touch upon, but I also must acknowledge its importance. A series of blasts in Iraq left at least 42 people dead and over 257 wounded. Kennedy said it best, “We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands.” It remains evident that we let pass what does not affect us and soon the repetition of such reports causes the initial shock of loss and empathy fade. I believe that is why the Boston Marathon rocked the United States as furiously and violently as it did. These events are not common here and the last time such an explosive terror occurred, it was a day ingrained forever in this country’s and its citizens’ memories.
The day was a devastation for all of us here in Boston, and moreover, American citizens all over the world grieved and friends from the international community sent their deepest condolences. But, I must ask, though I know it is a question that is hard to ask and hard to receive, why is there no such response every time hundreds are killed in the Middle East? Why was the other major tragedy that occurred yesterday near invisible in the media? These are thoughts that I feel almost guilty feeling, as a citizen of this proud country, but this guilt only shows that there is very much wrong with how many nationals feel of their own countries, of how they must, in the name of patriotism and nationalism, put their country’s problems atop any other. It must be reiterated that we are all of the same kind - humankind, that our brother’s problem is our problem and that there is a community greater than any associated with any sub-divided group, and that community is the community of the world, though we’ve quickly forgotten it. The terror at the Boston Marathon and the six Iraqi provinces remind us of the importance of this community and the dismantled state it is currently in.