us once again to the need for building a more humane and compassionate
community. It’s clear that politicians alone are not able to create the
conditions that create community, they need the encouragement, support and
pressure that comes from an informed citizenry who have a vision for a better
world. This isn’t impractical idealism. In fact, it may be the only real
alternative to the senseless death and destruction that threatens open societies
and the hopes for freedom of those who live in closed
The disgust that we all feel about the death of innocents in the London bombings has once again brought us to consider the human toll that results from terror and war. When the death visits our own cities, ones with which we can identify, it seems more real and more deeply tragic than it seems when it’s in a city unlike our own such as Baghdad. Derrick Z. Jackson, writing in the Boston Globe, says the bombings in London should cause us to look in the mirror.
In our minds, we can limit a car bomb’s destruction to the screen. Somehow it’s not quite the same. It’s distant. Different. And in this difference our sense of urgency is not quite the same as when the death comes closer to home. It’s not that we’re indifferent, nor lack compassion, nor harbor cruel disregard, it’s just a function of distance and difference brought to us on a small screen.
One general even said as much in a Congressional hearing when he said we could change the channel when reports appeared that attributed the deaths of innocents in Iraq to U.S. soldiers.
London, however, is a different story. It’s more like us than not. We can identify in a different way. We can imagine that we could have been on that bus or making our way to work on the train. It’s more familiar than different.
This presents a challenge to people of faith that we must must take up. It’s the challenge to develop an understanding of our common humanity. The deaths of all innocent people offend and diminish us, no matter where they occur nor how different the culture from our own. The deaths of innocent people in Baghdad have been under-reported in Western media through a campaign designed to limit our comprehension of the human toll of the war in Iraq.
To stand for the human community as a gift from a creative God is not to stand in one political camp or the other. It’s to stand in the middle, to find a better way, and to create peace. It’s to stand apart from the death and destruction and to stand for understanding and compassion, healing and hope.
The pain of loss and suffering is the same in any language. In this understanding we are united. Both Sojourners and the National Council of Churches have proposed alternative ways to death and destruction. These seem to me more realistic and promising than the current path. It’s naive’ to assume that the force of arms will resolve conflict.
It’s realistic to look in the mirror, see the face of pain and search for a better way.