My snit with Walgreens, scheduled for today’s blog, seems trivial in light of this afternoon’s events. All eyes are on Boston and will remain cast in that direction until we have some semblance of an answer as to why someone would want to bomb an international athletic event …and of course, who did this most evil deed. Lots of pundits, bloggers, and columnists will be putting forth all manner of theories as police and FBI undertake the massive investigation into physical evidence in hopes of finding that one shred, that one sliver from which the correct deduction can be made. In the meanwhile, we will hear blame cast in all directions. Republicans will blame immigrants and Democrats, the Dems will blame the GOP and the gun lobby. Muslims will be experience new forms of social discrimination, and anyone with an Islamic sounding name will be searched a little more thoroughly or scanned, or wanded, or whatever. None of that rhetoric nor any of that behavior will increase the security of this nation. In fact, it will undermine it.
I will not speculate on why or who. I will only say that the world is watching how we react. Will we step up police patrols so we, for a while, resemble a police state? Will cities begin installing even more cameras on street lights? Or will we just go on with our daily business, shaking our collective American head, wondering why anyone would want to bomb the country everyone else wants to live in?
The reality is that we are not the first nation to feel the blasts of IEDs on our own streets. Unlike the dramatic and surreal attack on the World Trade Center, most bombs are at ground level, spewing shrapnel at leg height where it can do the most damage to the greatest number of people. Those bombs were set off at a time when a large number of runners were coming in, when the most people would be in the vicinity of the bomb…when the most people would be hurt. This is deliberate. But it’s also deliberate in markets in Kandahar, the streets of Baghdad, the tubes of London, and the restaurants in Tel Aviv. People are fragile and when bombs explode where people congregate, they die. And are maimed. And destroyed even if they live. People who set off bombs in public spaces want all that and more. They want to change the way people live. They want you to be afraid.
But life in all those place, as it will in Boston, goes on. People will ultimately go about their business, perhaps being a bit more cautious in crowds, but go on they will. Some people will remember a particular bombing because it touched something close to home, or they will say, “Oh, yeah, I remember that,” in an offhand way. They will remember it happened, but not when, not the year, or the date, maybe the season…but not much else. We forget the details lest we are paralyzed by overwhelming terror.
There are, however, questions to be asked. How does a population survive constant IED attacks? What do you tell the children? What do you change about your routine…if anything at all? How do you internalize the idea that your city may be the next one to be bombed?
Talk to an Israeli. Any Israeli…Jew, Arab, Christian, Druze, Baha’i… can speak to what it means to live in a Western society whose public spaces are constantly under attack. They can tell you firsthand about the blood and body parts. And they can tell you how they get through it.
There are no conclusions to be drawn at this moment. We must wait for the investigation to progress. What we must not do is blame. We must not accuse. We must not sow more distrust and hatred. If we do any of those things, the bombers win. They have succeeded. They have created terror.
Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
If you weren’t there, you don’t know.
Let those who were, talk and let yourself listen.