Still More Violence: How Do We Respond?

For all of us — but particularly for the children in our lives: in the aftermath of yesterday’s bombing.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, not to feel this as close to home, with all the news coverage, with all the videos, with all the photos. We can remember how rare such incidents are, at least in the United States. But it still feels real, and close. Our fear systems may be triggered. We can respond with the unthinking natural responses: aggression, withdrawal, denial. Or we can make a choice to shake off our fear and respond differently, including with social engagement.

Not everyone responds the same way. I’m someone who needs information, as much as possible, in order to gain back my rational self in such times. Some need to get away, to more peaceful activities: a walk among tall trees, playing a game with family, just doing a normal day’s work.

Gradually perspective sets in. For me, it’s the knowledge that so many helpers stepped up and stepped in. The immigrant peace activist who lost two sons, one in Iraq and one to suicide, helping to save another man’s son by holding tight his tourniquet. The surgeons, the nurses, at the hospitals. The medical people who rushed to help and save lives, some after having just run 26+ miles themselves. The bystanders who tore down a metal fence to get to the injured. The thousands in Boston who reached out to runners who could not get to their rooms and belongings, to say, “stay with me, I’m here, you’ve got a place to go right now.”

Those are the lessons our children need to hear. Those are the role models we all need to hear. Perhaps one person, perhaps a group brought on the bombings. More than a hundred were injured. Far, far more stepped up to give of themselves, to bring peace and support and understanding. That is a far more important lesson.

And it’s one that gives ourselves and our children something to hang on to. We are not powerless in the face of such tragedies. We are immensely powerful. Every peaceful act we do, every kindness we do, may influence someone, in ripples, every bit as much as harmful acts will do.

We can make the choice to bring more kindness and peace to the world. So what kindness will you be doing today — for yourself? for your children? for strangers?

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