Practice peace in small ways

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Violent acts designed to injure, to kill and to frighten innocent people make no sense to me. Monday there was such an act, a tragedy in a world that seems to have too many tragedies.

A day for runners, their families, friends and on-lookers turned from a celebration into a nightmare in a matter of seconds. Those of us hearing reports from Boston whispered, “Not again.” And, collectively we asked, “Why and who is responsible?”

Investigators don’t have answers to those questions. No one has yet to claim responsibility and give a reason for the bombings. So, that leaves us trying to understand something that seems impossible to understand.

This morning I read an account from a reporter covering the marathon. He described the horror and shock that ripped through the streets of Boston following the two explosions. Beneath his words, you felt his sense of disbelief.

To me the saddest part of the story is that this is not a rare story anymore. And, while we feel surprised and unsettled, these kinds of stories are becoming commonplace. It seems every few months there is another unbelievable tragedy, another something that shakes us.

Add to that the daily reports of violence and death outside of our country. Adults and children die every day in bombings or because they are caught in the crossfire in a war zone.

Why humans continue to choose to harm each other is the unanswered question that haunts us. In our time of technology, we hear and see the results of that choice immediately on television or in a post on Facebook or from 100 other instant information sources.

A day without a report of horrific violence somewhere in the world is something that doesn’t happen in 2013. However, when that violence takes place during an event like the Boston Marathon, it brings it closer to home for Americans.

It is ironic that on Monday people from Newtown, Conn., ran in the marathon in memory of the 26 killed there in December. Organizers of the event scheduled a 26-second silence at the start and dedicated the 26th mile to the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Now there are new victims to remember.

So, we try to make sense out of the senseless. We want someone on whom to place our rage for the injuries inflicted and for the deaths of innocent people, including an 8-year-old child.

While I hope they find out who did this and why, I also hope we stop our chattering about it long enough to consider what this has to teach us. What can we learn about ourselves that might contribute to making a less violent world?

That violence has a prominent place in our big world begs me to look at the place it has in my small world. How do I manage my own reactions and actions when anger arises? And anger arises in all of us from time to time.

Am I making choices that bring peace or discord? Am I kind even when kindness is not what is coming my way?

I can’t stop all the cruel and violent things that go on in the world. What I can do is look at my life and notice when I am not contributing to peace, notice when I am violent in the way I think and even in the tone I use when I speak.

It may seem a small thing in the midst of what seems like a world filled with anger and violence. However, on this day as I try to wrap my mind around yet another deliberate act of violence, it is my best answer to what I can do to make a difference.

Maybe when a majority of us learn to be more aware of how and what we think, say and do, there will be less violence and more peace in our small worlds and in the big world. Perhaps that is the way to honor those injured and killed in senseless acts of violence.