I woke, like most of the world this morning, to the news that at least two bombs had exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Death, injury, despair, people running, terror stricken faces, the sounds of emergency vehicles, and all kinds of commentary were on every kind of media and internet outlet.
The question of course, is why do people do this kind of thing to other people? I was wondering about this on and off today, and then I began to think about how often this kind of thing happens.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Australia. On the whole, Australia is a wonderful place. Compared to many in the world, we are wealthy, and very safe, and have access to good health care and education. For huge numbers of people, this is not the norm. And when something like the Boston Marathon bombings occurs, or impacts on those of us who live in Australia, we are horrified and outraged and devastated. But we often forget that there are human beings, just like ourselves, who live in places where violence and death are much more frequent, and very much closer to home.
Today I had the opportunity to chat to friends of ours who have worked with refugees in the detention centre on Christmas Island. They have put human faces on “the boat people” who have risked all, to come to Australia. When you listen to their stories about the people they’ve met and the scars that they’ve seen, you begin to understand just why people might leave their home countries, trek across half the world, and then, finally, put themselves and their families on a leaky, unsafe boat, in the hope of finding somewhere that is safe for them to live. A place without fear, where they can educate their girls, or worship according to their own beliefs, without running the risk of death or torture or incarceration.
This afternoon, after our conversation prompted me, I decided to have a look at just where violence was occurring across the globe. It took me a while, as the Boston bombings have almost eclipsed any other news story, but I learnt that four hours ago, multiple bombs exploded in Iraq, killing at least fifty. That story was hidden amongst the many about Boston, and I was struck by the lack of media coverage about the middle eastern tragedies, and the ongoing issues in Africa or South America.
Why does one bombing mean so much more to us than another? Or is this simply because of the media spin? And if not, then how did we become so callous as to regard over fifty dead in Iraq as so much less than a bombing in a Western country? Is it because we feel “kinship” with western nations? Is it because we’ve become immune to ongoing violence in Iraq? Are we not all human beings? Have we forgotten that the victims in places like Iraq still have families, just as the victims in Boston do?
I know that I’ve just written a pile of questions, and I’m not politically savvy enough to understand all of the implications of every act of violence, but I do know that there are mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers everywhere, all over the world, mourning the violent death and injury of loved ones.
I’m reminded today to think further than the one story I’ll probably see on the news tonight. The families of the victims of Boston have my sympathy, but no less than the families of the victims in Iraq, and I know that there are many more that I’m unaware of, simply because no one has yet told their story.