Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Bombing of the Boston Marathon

They are calling the bombing of the Boston Marathon an act of terrorism.  And so it is.  In fact, whenever a person perpetrates violence against another person--whether a mugging, drone attack, or any form of murder found in between--it is an act of terrorism.  I realize the dictionary defines terrorism specifically as a politically motivated act of violence.  They may well determine those guilty of the Boston bombing represent some political faction.  But I'm bothered by the immediate leap to blame the incident on terrorism in the traditional sense, and I'm not totally sure why--although I have my suspicions.  Here are my thoughts as I attempt to sort out my feelings.

By labeling this tragedy terrorism, I feel it allows us to distance ourselves from it.  It keeps us looking outside of ourselves for scapegoats to allay our fears.  For example, guns.  There has been a lot of discussion since the last genocide about curbing violence in this country by tightening existing gun laws.  I don't think people should own guns for the purpose of defending themselves against intruders and such because the principle of returning evil in kind--particularly violence--is a principle of this dark, fallen world, not of the Kingdom of God.  There simply is no room for retaliation, vengeance, war, retribution, self-defense, and so on in Christ's Kingdom.  Jesus has taught us violence will never bring peace and justice, and the world will never understand this until we, as His representatives in this world, fully embrace the Kingdom principle of justice through mercy, love, and forgiveness.  And because having a gun around presents too much of a temptation to acquiesce to this world's principle of lock and load, I submit it is better not to own guns, at all.

Another scapegoat is political factions.  Truly, these have always been a threat to peace, perhaps no more so than in the present times.  Even though political extremists are an ever present danger, it is too easy for us to single out an entire people group because some subset of that group has gone postal.  Fear has a way of pushing reason and objectivity out the window.  Besides, whether we think ourselves as more civilized than this or not, we all tend, because of our inherent self-interest, to exult ourselves at the expense of others.  Racism, the great Sin, travesty, and national shame of America, as with all forms of prejudice, is nothing more than a power play.

If we think about it in the silence of solitude--a situation most of us avoid these days--I'm sure we can dredge up other scapegoats for the violence in our country.  But I propose, unless we are truly honest with ourselves, we won't likely implicate ourselves.  I submit if we really want to shift the current violent tide in our nation we need to take a long, hard, and yes painful look at ourselves--starting with what we buy and sell in the guise of entertainment.

Do we really believe the virtually unchecked flow of graphically violent movies, books, songs, magazines, video games, and so on don't significantly corrupt the consciousness of a people--especially young impressionable minds?  Do we really think we can create a nation that respects women and cherishes the innocence of its children when we hungrily pursue pornography, either soft or hard core? Do we really believe animated sit-coms where the young kid shoots his dog full of bleeding holes qualifies as edifying humor? (Don't play the Loony Tunes card, here; the violence of Bugs Bunny is a far cry from the amoral cruelty of so-called comedies of today).  Do we really believe the barrage of sarcastic, crude, junior high, and disrespectful humor pawned off as good situation comedy--let alone the raft of mindless reality shows--fosters a society of mutual trust and respect?

Now, superimpose all of this on a generation--nay, on generations--of disenfranchised, unloved, abused, and angry children and the adults they have grown into; haven't we created the perfect storm for the violence we are experiencing?

If we are really concerned about the escalating violence in our world--and we should be--we must stop looking for scapegoats, and start looking at ourselves.  And when we do, it is my supreme hope and prayer that we will repent of this world and its methods--methods we are all guilty of--methods that don't work, nor have ever worked, nor never will work to bring peace--and turn our hearts to the living Christ, whose way of love, forgiveness, and mercy is the only solution for the violence killing us all.


Anonymous said...

Read yesterday that Obama has personally ordered the assassination of over 3300 people in Pakistan the last 4 years (via drone missles). Where are the Christian churches? Why are we shocked when a few are killed here when thousands are killed there in our name? It's the same old story, we thirst for justice for others but ask for mercy for ourselves.

Jon Kokko said...

There are two faces to this tragedy: death for which those involved now mourn and sin, of which very few will recognize. It's so much easier to blame a faction or a political group or a president because, if we blame sin, we might just recognize ourselves.