If Hate and Prejudice is Taught, then Love and Acceptance can be Taught too

Life Is Too Short

AM.jpg-25f11a2331401bc3747794c9315ffe28 It’s sad when people are so consumed by hate, that they don’t even recognize love.

In response to a group of religious fanatics carrying signs of hatred towards certain people, the yellow banner in this photo was created to give a positive alternative for people’s viewing.  After the pastor of the religious group passed away, protestors held up the white banner to offer their condolences for the baptist congregation.  Some of the church members are so filled with hate, they don’t even understand the meaning of the white banner and it’s significance.

If we can teach this level of hatred toward others that they would hold up signs of criticism in public, surely we must be able to teach an equal amount of love.  The yellow and white signs are the first step in that teaching.

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Safe In Boston …

I am proud to be a member of the Boston Community.  Despite the bombings and the events surrounding the capture of the suspects, I feel safe here.

516dad8ed3799.preview-300It’s been an extremely emotional week.  Thankfully I was not at the finish line on Monday.  But my charity organization had 10 people running the marathon, and I had given finish line passes to other volunteers for our charity.  Being at the office with readily accessible internet access turned out to be an even greater blessing.  We were able to track down our runners and friends through email, Facebook, the Google People Finder for the Boston Marathon, and lastly by called the person with finish lines passes at home and reaching him when he finally returned home that evening.  That’s when I lost it and my emotional disruption lasted through Tuesday.  It wasn’t  until I went running that evening that life started to feel more normal.

So I tried to avoid the news, to focus my energy and nervousness into something positive like healthy exercise, and cope with the other difficulties life has deposited in my lap this month.  And to focus on the outpouring of love and support, anything positive related to the event.

Then I awoke early Friday morning ready to get ready for work.  My boyfriend was already awake and reading the news.  854184_t607He starts telling me about the updated news reports … the bombing suspects robbed a 711 and had a shootout with police (waiting for the Frontline coverage of these events to know the real truth)…  I could not believe the story and asked if he was telling me a dream he had.  There was no way this crazy story was based in reality.  Some of those details have now been revised, but that was the story at the time.  And we learned of the “Shelter in Place” lockdown expanding to our town, and the events in Watertown were no more than 2 miles away.  We expected that the end was near and we would go on with life.  The day long lockdown resulted in us staying indoors with the doors locked and listening to the continuous news coverage.

bostongraphic1Eventually I had the feeling of being hostage.  I didn’t want to open my door, I didn’t want to drive my car, it was difficult to look outside and once it started getting dark I closed the blinds.  Granted, this is the most favorable hostage situation imaginable, being with my bf, able to talk to family, to read, do chores, and try to distract myself.  We had no idea what information was true, where the suspect was, or what his motivations were.

19642323.cmsThen just as they called off the lockdown, without fresh insight to the suspect’s whereabouts, the report of new exchange of gunfire (not sure of the facts here) and possible knowledge of his whereabouts.  Thankfully they have captured this 19 year old, and throughout Friday’s events no civilians were injured.  Boston celebrated last night, and we will heal.  But there is still risk of consequences from this attack.  We must stay vigilant to avoid harming innocent people just because they share ethnicity, immigration status, or religious belief with these terrorists.  There are already reports of random acts of violence, and the discussion around immigration is referencing this event.

It’s a reminder for each of us to do what we can to improve our local community.  Fear and hatred are the problems and the underlying source of these tragedies, not the answers.

Boston Marathon ExplosionsHere is the message I shared with friends and family:

We are so grateful for the law enforcement people who went toward danger to capture these terrorists.  Their diligence and coordination kept the residents of Watertown safe during each encounter, and no additional injury or fatality was added to the toll.

It will be a long time before the true facts are known and we must avoid spreading information that is not yet fact.  We have received little tidbits of information, which are sometimes revised.  Now that we have one of the culprits, hopefully additional truth can be discovered.

Our vigilance is still needed, to prevent additional acts of terrorism.  This event is not reason to attack people of Russian or Chechnyan decent, or people of Muslim faith.  There are disturbed and harmed people in all communities and faiths.  This is our opportunity to learn the harms inflicted on these two brothers, and for each of us to improve our communities and social interactions to avoid repeated offenses.

We cannot use this bombing to affect our view of immigration.  I can’t imagine the level of detailed analysis required to detect this kind of behavior in a person, especially given the classmates reports of a bright, friendly, social young man who never gave any indication of having the capability to perform an act like this bombing.  The reports of the Mercedes owner being let go, and the Watertown resident who discovered the 19 year old in the boat left unharmed, I can only imagine this person to still have some humanity left in him.

At the same time we are processing this event, we also mourn the explosion in Texas where the loss of life is even greater.  Whether by carelessness or negligence, it is a reminder of that our lives are continuously in the hands of others.  And we have the lives of others within our influence as well.  We must not lose our focus on responsibilities that affect the lives of others.