Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Quest for a Nonviolent Response to Tragedy

The Boston Marathon attack and tragedy: why did this happen? We don’t know yet. What reactions do we experience? Fear, confusion and anger. My concern is that some Americans will become so anxious, they may act out violently themselves. Certainly, fear and cautiousness are both legitimate. But, I hope that people will not generalize and fear everyone who is different, such as anyone who comes from another country, those who have different religious views, creeds and colors. Must we load guns in response, or is there a nonviolent way to respond to such crises?

America is becoming more of a melting pot, a tasty vat of gumbo, full of all sorts of delicious foods. Some prefer Campbell soup from a can, soup we are used to, that we loved as children. But, even Campbell soup is full of several ingredients. Can we enjoy our differences, our unique ways of being while managing our fear and anxiety?
When someone attacks and kills in the name of a god or belief or for no apparent reason at all, we get upset. Christians fought and killed many during the Crusades as have other religious groups. There are extremists in every religion, in every race, and in patriots of many countries. 

We can learn to not blame a whole group just because of extremists’ or radicals’ actions. Even if we abhor violence, it may be likely that anyone who is stressed chronically or intensely enough may react in violence. Our nature, our very humanness includes not only the light but the dark as well. We don’t completely know why some kill and attack while others strive for peace and respond in nonviolent ways. The good news is that nonviolent actions can be learned and we can witness how successful the results can be. Can we resolve our conflicts nonviolently even after being terrorized?

This is not just about those who build bombs but also about Americans who buy and collect high powered guns. Whether fearful, angry or just protective, some hoard their weapons of mass destruction which can be so easily bought on the internet and at gun shows. After such a tragedy, trusting those who walk among us, looking just like everyone else, is more difficult. We can’t always know who is safe and who is not.

We need to deal with our frightened feelings, watch for possible risky behavior and potential violence in others and in ourselves, but we do not need to separate and isolate. The closer we are to each other, the more we connect to and get to know each other well, the better the possibility of peace, harmony and safety - than if we walk around loaded with guns, ready to shoot and kill at the slightest hint of differentness. 

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