Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon Bombing’

Why do people do that?

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Many of us have been glued to the news as the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers comes to a close.  Many of us ponder the question, “Why?”  Why would people do this?

As with any such incident, I certainly would not want to say the answer is easy.  But some thoughts seem worthy of sharing. I am struck by one of the most moving books I read on this question titled “Eichman In My Hands.” The book chronicled the kidnapping of the Nazi general in charge of the logistical support that enabled the Holocaust. Eichmann was kidnapped from Argentia where he had fled after the war. The book’s author … the Mossad agent who had lost family in the Holocaust and who was tasked with bringing Eichman to justice.

The author’s words, as he concluded the book around the “Why” question, were chilling.  He said he now believed that very normalcy … almost boringly so … of Eichmann should deeply unsettle us.  He also noted that evil grows from “amorality by consensus.”  Restated, what he held was that individuals and communities embark on a dark path when they erase the moral conversation from life.  They become amoral, not immoral.  Ironically, extremists, religious and otherwise, do this adeptly, slowly erasing all moral consideration in a way that is insidious in its boredom.  The bombers, like Eichmann, progressively erased a foundational humanity years before the Marathon, years before the Holocaust.

It is heart breaking to see the photo of 8 year old Martin Richard.   It is apparent, given the evidence, that the bomber responsible for his death would have set the back-pack laden with explosives right near this child.  That is beyond hard to imagine for us.  And then to calmly walk back down the street, away from the explosion….

That spiritual dullness so apparent in the callousness of it all speaks to a conscience washed clean of any moral feeling.   “Amorality by consensus.” Evil is born of such a perspective.

Evil by its nature wants to wound everyone, goodness by its nature wants to hurt no-one.  The evil feel that are fully alive when they go on the offensive, because they are always wanting to destroy.  The good feel they are alive when they are not attacking anyone but are taking advantage of the opportunity to help others. (Heavenly Secret 1684)

And our call is to watch for ways in which that same callousness, dismissive of all forms of suffering, can start to grow in our lives.  Lord help us be helpers.

Thoughts On Boston

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

We join together in the deep sadness that events like Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon bring to mind. Events like that of April 15th are not anomalies, though we wish it so. From a suicide bombing in Mogadishu last week to the continued echoes of violent death in Iraq and Afghanistan, these events stain the human experience, reminding us again and again of the caustic power of darkness.

40 years ago, in 1963, the nation was rocked by another bombing, this one at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. 4 beautiful young girls died. Darkness had its day.

I was struck recently reading an interview with a survivor of that bombing. A young girl then, a friend of the four, she by mere happenstance was not with her friends the moment the explosion tore through the room. Years later, rummaging through the nicknacks of a now decades long worth of living, she same across the church flier for the sermon that was to have been preached the day of the bombing.

The topic of the service … forgiveness. The scripture for the service … Christ’s words from the Cross …. “Father forgive them for don’t know what they are doing.”

That is the love, the incredibly difficult love we are to bring to these shattered moments. One can see that very love in action from the outpouring of support in Boston. Stories of people opening their homes to now stranded runners. Courage of first responders running towards the carnage. Runners running directly from the race to donate blood. The helpers. As Fred Rogers shared, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And we do.

And that love is both what gives us hope in these moments as well as a call for what we are to become. It is not a simple call but a jarring one because it calls us so clearly out of our settled selves. It is why churches exist. Our job … to join in the suffering and to continue to seek a new world.

“Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him, and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.” Rev. Martin Luther King delivering the eulogy for three of the girls killed at the 15th Street Baptist Church.