Before I begin, I ask that we pray for those affected by the violence in Boston. God will move in spite of, and in the face of, evil. Amen.
Instead, this post is about our reactions to public tragedy.
Tragic events like the Boston Marathon Explosions, the Sandy Hook shootings, the Steubenville rape case, and Hurricane Sandy cause an outpouring of public reactions. These tragedies are different than most because even though tragedies play out every day in every hospital’s ER, the tragedies like those listed above rip the privacy curtains back and force us to deal with the bare reality of death and evil in sight of everyone around us.
We have nowhere to hide. Every news station broadcasts live feeds, countless hours of interviews, and updates to the story as immediately as possible. “Personal” social networking sites are flooded with our friends’ rawest reactions. Our meals with our closest family and friends are paired with conversations and questions that all are ill-equipped to answer. We have nowhere to hide, and our reactions are seen.
This nakedness and constant grating causes extreme reactions. After all, these tragedies are extreme realities and deserve extreme responses. Anyone who doesn’t feel their humanity and human decency being shredded is either incapable of feeling deep emotion or is, tragically, calloused because of the frequency of these events. This isn’t to point fingers at who doesn’t have extreme reactions; this is to say that extreme reactions are normal.
Unfortunately, our extreme reactions are often extremely polarizing. In our need to feel safe, we tend to hold on to what is sacred and familiar–family, friends, faith–and wish everyone else the best of luck. Or we blame and hate whatever doesn’t fall within our huddle of familiarity.
In our extreme reaction we blame the extreme situation and forget the extreme need. These tragic events make us feel that a line is drawn in the sand and divide us. But instead of looking at one another with extreme disgust and hatred, let’s use that aching and grieving differently.
Hope is found and fear is fought when our reaction is one of extreme love.