This week seems to be getting heavier and heavier. News of illnesses and accidents in my community keep rolling in with the bombing at the Boston Marathon adding an exclamation point to each bit of bad news. Now we add the fertilizer plant explosion. Ugh.
I always wonder at such times whether to speak at all. Silence seems possibly more appropriate. But then not to speak can seem like ignoring the elephant in the middle of the room. To those suffering grief and loss, I hope I cause no offense in speaking. I only wish to address what is on so many minds today. You are on our minds.
There is so much horror in this world which we can do little about. But, underneath the weight of my own helplessness lies also a tremor of fear for what we could do. I fear we will turn our helplessness into hatred. I fear we will find someone to blame and lash out. We have a history of doing this. Whatever our religion/non-religion or nationality/ethnic group somewhere in the past we can find times when we have dehumanized those who have wronged us, ridiculed those who are different and perpetrated injustice.
In the midst of this heavy week I have been doing some heavy reading. I’ve been reading about Judaism and realizing my own complicity in anti-jewish sentiments. Antisemitism is abhorrent to me. Realizing whenever I contrast Jesus’ teachings against the “religious leaders of the time” I participate, to some extent, in furthering negativity toward an ethnic and religious group is shocking, humbling, troubling.
I am learning about the diversity of thought amongst Jewish Rabbis, the openness to different understandings and experiences of God, the concern with what we do in the here and now and how we experience God in daily life. Not that these positive traits can be universalized to all Jewish people anymore than the negative. Yet my readings have caused me to reconsider how my interpretation of scriptures may disparage people I know little about.
Sometimes it is easy to say prejudiced things when we know little about one another. Or when we are hurt. Or when we are angry. Or when we are afraid.
So, I hope we will pause to reflect upon who our minds immediately jumped to when we heard of the heinous crimes committed at the Boston Marathon. I hope we will pause to consider how our responses to this tragedy color the world around us. I hope we will pause to consider similar tragedies around the world and how our biases and our prejudices and our ignorance of other cultures may affect how we see those as well. I hope we will pause to grieve and to consider carefully our next steps because we are not really as helpless as we think. Our actions and inactions, our words and silences create a world in which such tragedies are more... or hopefully less ...likely to happen again.