Only one week after my post about Kid President, a boy who’s mission is to inspire people to be kinder and fill the world with love, Boston happened.
Crowds of people filled with courage and love and drive and passion, runners and their supporters, these people were targeted by violence and ignorance and hate. And no one knows why.
I spent all of Monday evening scanning news reports and clicking through photographs. Horrible photographs. Of people, people who have families and dreams, now covered in blood or grimacing with pain. There were so many photographs.
My heart clenched and my stomach turned as I looked through these pictures and imagined their pain.
But there were so many other people who responded with strength and skill and courage and compassion. EMTs, police, firemen, doctors, family members, fellow runners, fellow human beings.
And I took heart.
But something else was beginning to happen in the hours after the tragedy. Something that scared me even more than bombs.
People were getting angry.
There were early reports of a man wearing a hoodie and backpack who spoke with an accent, probably Middle Eastern, who was seen near where the first bomb went off. There were also reports that a Saudi national was being guarded in the hospital.
Various organizations of American Muslims have been vociferously giving support to Bostonians, and also expressing genuine fear for themselves and the resurgence of anger towards their whole demographic.
And on Wednesday, a dear friend of mine, who comes from a Muslim family and also possesses one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever encountered, was walking near campus when someone shouted at him from a passing car, “Go back to your country!”
This is unacceptable.
Yes, the event was horrible. People were killed and injured. A joyous celebration was violated with hate and violence.
That does not mean we should respond with like.
After my initial shock and horror, my response was not anger but fear. I feared for the big picture consequences. As much as I wished it hadn’t happened, and as much as I hate the idea of citizens targeting fellow citizens, I hoped it was a domestic incident. An international attack would have had impossibly far-reaching effects. Violence would be answered with more violence. How quickly we forget the Golden Rule of our childhood when we collectively label someone as both “other” and “dangerous.”
Acts such as the one in Boston are born from ignorance and hate. Do not perpetrate the same vices.
Calling out of car windows to heckle a fellow human being accomplishes nothing. Instead, respond to Monday with compassion, concern, strength, love, and a tender hand on the shoulder of a friend with family in Boston.