How fragile is our precarious democracy in the face of senseless violence?
Two explosions exposed the fragile state of our precarious social contract at the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013, as three were killed and 175 or so injured, some badly, some losing arms and legs. As this column was written nine hours after the carnage (and published 8 days later), we don’t know yet if this was by domestic or foreign terrorists.
Doesn’t matter. It was mean-spirited premeditation with malice aforethought, killing innocents to get attention and send a message.
Recall this paragraph from my March 28, 2007 column: “One of the things a healthy society prides itself on is its commitment and ability to protect the most fragile, the most vulnerable, and the most innocent. Even the animal kingdom seems to understand that the newborn and the very young are to be protected and guarded at any cost.” My March 28, 2007 column was about the violent death of a 41-day old infant.
A 1960’s Black activist famously said, ”Violence is as American as cherry pie,” which would have been more accurate had he said violence is in all societies, which is all the more reason why we need the nonviolence preached by Martin Luther King, Jr.
King walked the nonviolence talk through his teaching, preaching and personal behavior. Nonviolence should be a beacon for the followers of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that have turned their backs on “love your neighbor” and “turn the other cheek.” The “who is my neighbor?” question was answered for all time: Not just those like “us,” but also those who are “other” in race, creed, color and culture.
We don’t yet know what person or group with a glass-is-half-empty attitude is responsible for the well-planned, well-executed attack to intentionally kill and maim. We wait together, around the globe, to learn what sense of divisiveness, division, hatred, despair, failure, sense of being wronged, and/or different vision of the future contributed to this.
We are not so naïve as to believe what we say in this column will stop such behavior. It’s been going on for millennia. It will continue to do so, human nature being what it is. Nonetheless, we keep our eye on the prize.
Planned. Premeditated. Despicable. Unjustified. They knew the last mile and finish line was dedicated to the 20 children and six teachers slain in New Town, CT, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. These perpetrators repeat an old and chilling message: Nothing is sacred. They want to show that their terror of us is their order of the day. We need to show that fear of them is not the order of our day.
Once again, children are among the casualties at an event participated in by over 100 nations, an event televised and seen around the world.
We are leery of continued excuses offered for those who plan and carry out such terrorist acts. At some point, we as a society and we as a world of nations must understand that there are angry people with no qualms about causing maximum harm and injury to others, including the innocent, including children, as we saw throughout the 20th century. It is more than simple ideology, with right and left camps filled with certitude that the other side is guilty, even as both sides do it.
Too many of both parties are too eager to attack the president, as seen especially during the previous two presidential elections with attacks based on skin color. We are in dangerous territory when people work to become comfortable accepting a doctrine that allows for fewer rights for some, inferior dreams for others, and distorted visions of success for everyone.
There is unjustified fanaticism on both the political left and political right. We need, as a society, as a nation, and as individuals, to confront the cause of the fanaticism of the day and work hard to guarantee that there will not be more violence and senseless acts of brutality. There are people not interested in understanding, just violence. We still need to work to be understood by them and work to get all to sit down to honest, transparent and truthful discussions, with respect for the differences, one to another.
This column does not intend to ask anyone to buy into friendly ecumenical messages, for only light can push away darkness, not more darkness. Yet too many answer or want to answer darkness with darkness. The antidote that we need is a little bit more of that old-time religion: giving love and respect, not demanding it.
When the emphasis of a society is not to prevent harm to the most innocent of our population, our children, or refrain from punishing those who do, it does not bode well for the future, be it in Boston, Moscow, Beijing, Minneapolis/St. Paul or any other great city on our planet.
Our prayers go out to the city of Boston and its citizens during these troubling events. But let us not forget to also pray for our own survival.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.