Images of 8 year old Martin Richard are wherever you look right now. What a beautiful young boy, what an angelic and pristine face. Gone now. Extinguished. Snuffed out by virtue of minds surely so deranged that rational souls cannot contemplate them. I wonder, what does it take to reach the point where one thinks that an act of barbarity is the clearest message that can be sent? What calculations churn within the mind of a bomber, a gunman?
I cannot fathom such things. I’m glad that I cannot. And I have frankly no idea how we eradicate such people from society.
But then perhaps I do. Perhaps we all do. Perhaps the clearest message we can send is to seek to live the best of lives, the most compassionate, the most real. On a planet of 7 billion people we can expect more than a little disagreement, but wherever we exist we share a common bond of humanity, and of course a common ancestry. As you hug your children tonight do so in the knowledge that people from every culture are doing the same, and that these people have desires, needs, fears. It would be so easy to be idealistic at this point, but rather than succumb to this I suggest that the fast track to compassion begins with the simple recognition that almost everything we do has an impact. The words we speak, the choices we make; our very existence is a single strand amidst a vast web of human experience. That’s not to suggest we have to tread on eggshells and do nothing to rattle the cage. As if I’d say a thing like that. In fact real change has been brought by cage rattlers down the years, people unafraid to be unpopular, to take the narrow pass rather than the wide road to conformity. Imagine where we would be if we’d lacked the courage to overcome communism, or organised religion, or racism, homophobia.
No, to elicit change is to rock the boat. But how we do it will be the truest measure of our humanity. And the thing about the bombers and the gunmen of this world as that they have left all humanity at the door the instant they choose to express themselves this way. Yes they can hurt us. Kill us, even. Yet ask yourself, the sounds we hear further to this Boston atrocity appear to magnify the better angels of our nature. Compassion, courage, a will to resist evil. Perhaps when evil rises as it has done, it creates the very thing that unifies us most. Amidst the debris I see human beings. People like you, like me. People in need. And I care. And I want to help. And I want to be part of a world where no life is extinguished in this way.
How about you?