Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Echoes of 9/11 in yesterday's tragedy in Boston

TV coverage of yesterday's tragedy in Boston affected me physically. I'm hundreds of miles from Boston, but reports of the limbs of children strewn on the roadway really got to me.  It took all of my mindfulness training to calm down and recenter.

Later on, I experienced a flashback to 9/11 and our nation's rush to war despite the warnings of the peace-makers among us:

In his book “Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen Response to Terrorism,” Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “Many of us claim to be disciples of the Buddha, of Jesus Christ, of Mohammed, but we don’t listen to their teachings. Hatred cannot overcome hatred. Violence cannot overcome violence. The bible, the Koran, the Torah, and the Sutras teach us that. But we don’t always believe in our spiritual path. We must think that our spiritual teachings are not realistic, because we have put so much faith in military and financial power. We think that money and weapons can make us strong. But our country has a lot of weapons and a lot of money and we are still very afraid and insecure.”

Hopefully, we've learned the difference since 9/11 between justice and revenge, and this latest incident will not send our nation down the path of retaliatory violence. There is but a slight hint of that "get even" mentality in the New York Times editorial board's response to yesterday's tragedy:

A marathon is the most unifying of sporting events. The city that shows up to cheer on thousands of runners doesn’t really know or care much about who wins; there are no sides to root for or against. Those who stand on the sidelines — as they have done in Boston since 1897 — come to celebrate runners from around the world. The country or neighborhood of origin of the competitors matters far less than their stamina. 

 On Monday, the weather for the 117th running of the Boston Marathon was cloudy and a little chilly — just the way runners like it. Three hours after the winners had broken the tape, there were still many runners on the course, and hundreds of spectators on the sidewalk, when an explosion rocked the finish-line area on Boylston Street, across from the main viewing stand. For a brief second, the flags of scores of nations were bent downward by the blast. 

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