Playwright and composer – creator of the musical Group

A reasonable response to the Boston Marathon bombing

Whatever your thoughts on gun control, it is a reasonable reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy to assess our accessibility to military level weapons and ammunition. I could go on at length how the Gabby Giffords shooter was only stopped when he paused to reload (story) or how children escaped Sandy Hook when the shooter had to reload (story), so the capacity of cartridges should be evaluated, but that would not have stopped the Boston Marathon explosions.

The bombs used in Boston were probably made in a home not so different than yours or mine. They were placed in backpacks. They were surrounded by metal pieces that would later get lodged in the flesh of families cheering on their loved ones. What is the reasonable reaction to that?

As a resident of Los Angeles, I can tell you first hand that backpacks are searched at places such as Disneyland and the Staples Center. I always naively assumed this was to check for knifes, or maybe guns. It now occurs to me that this simple search could prevent bombings as well. This type of search is not feasible at large, outdoor events like the Boston Marathon. So, if we can’t prevent individuals from making bombs and leaving them in public areas, what can we do?

When “news” broke that an international (read: middle eastern) man was arrested, it felt forced and false, a knee-jerk reaction that gives us an enemy we Americans are comfortable with. Didn’t we have a similar reaction to the Oklahoma City bombings, only to find out it was the work of a United States Citizen with ties to a right-wing paramilitary organization?

We don’t know who caused the Boston bombing, yet, so I am left with many questions. Did friends, family or mental health professionals fail the person responsible for the bombing? Did he or she fall through the cracks? Was this heinous act caused by someone who was pushed over the edge by words of hate?

I do not personally have the power to change our gun laws or to search for bombs at large gatherings. I do, however, have control over what I put out into the universe. I believe that words matter. I believe that everything we say and do can affect others. I believe it is possible for someone who is filled with anger and fear to get motivated by the words of a stranger to commit a terrible crime.

We know that The Turner Diaries and its depiction of an overthrow of the U.S. Government inspired the Oklahoma City bomber (story). We know that the killer of the physician George Tiller had a network of supporters who encouraged his actions and applauded his violent act (story).

What I’m trying to say is that you never know who is reading or hearing the hatred you put out into the world. You want a reasonable response to the tragedy in Boston?

LEAN TOWARDS EMPATHY. LEAN TOWARDS LOVE.

Everything else can only cause pain. Do not accept it when you hear politicians preaching hatred. There are thousands of people who believe that President Obama is the actual, literal devil. There are pundits who will tell you that the world is going to end when the wrong person is elected. What is the reasonable reaction to that form of rhetoric if you struggling with mental health issues? What do you do when you are told to exercise your second amendment rights before it is too late?

Leaders and dangerous organizations have the right to say whatever they want, but they need to know how dangerous their rhetoric is. Choose where you get your news from carefully and don’t support those who may encourage people on the edge to act out in violence.

LEAN TOWARDS EMPATHY. LEAN TOWARDS LOVE.

 

 

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2 responses

  1. Yes! This is wonderful. Thank you!

    April 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

  2. Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)

    Adam,
    I’m so glad you followed me on Twitter, or I might never have stumbled across your blog and this post. This is exactly what I needed to read on this “morning after.” As a lifelong “Bostonian” (though I actually live in the burbs), I was equal parts relieved, proud, and frightened at the end of yesterday’s unprecedented manhunt. I was relieved to know that a) this part of a horror story was getting some closure and b) the suspect was taken alive. I was proud of the way our city came together, cooperated, and stayed strong; and I was proud of the service men and women from all agencies worked together in what looked (from the outside) like seamless harmony. But I was also still frightened – frightened by the way the cheers from the crowd in Watertown at times seemed to verge on dangerous, frightened by the way so-called professional newspeople and “experts” were referring to the young man in custody as “murdered” and “terrorist” instead of the more appropriate, pre-investigation “suspect.” I was frightened by the tweets and Facebook updates I read that held no trace of empathy or caution or doubt, and were just out for blood and revenge, and so-called “justice.”

    These are complex times and complex adversaries. Though it would be nice and neat if the enemy was just one person, that isn’t the way the real world works. We do not get to have a Darth Vader or a Voldemort or a Hannibal Lecter. Not in a situation like this. I just hope that the people in charge of unfolding the next pieces of this puzzle are able to keep cool heads and open hearts – try to focus on the future as much as the past and on healing as much as retribution.

    Thanks for this post.

    April 20, 2013 at 6:55 am

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