17 April 2013

The real lesson of the Boston bombing

To quote the late Christopher Hitchens, "the rats have come vomiting from the sewers again" this time in Boston by committing the heinous and barbarous crime of targeting innocent people with improvised explosive devices, as we now know, made from pressure cookers packed with gun powder, nails, and ball bearings.  Cheap bombs made from ingredients designed to maim and injure in multitudes by firing their shrapnel at mass trajectories and at high velocity.  Three people killed needlessly, countless others injured following actions that can be understood, perhaps, but never condoned and never reconciled but perhaps after arduous remorse forgiven.  It is the type of brutality typically reserved for war zones but which has grown far too common in civilian areas.

No matter the reasons behind this brutal attack, no justification can excuse violence of this sort inflicted on noncombatants. Yet they continue to occur all around the world.

The mayor of Boston has resolutely promised that "(t)his tragedy is not going to stop Boston. We will not let terror take us over."

As was the case after the horrific mass killings in Norway, freely elected leaders have vowed not to infringe on democratic values.  It is an invaluable lesson for which we must adhere and maintain as the beacon of secular principles that bind people, simply as human beings absent of, or despite, religious or political affiliations, together.

But there is a deeper lesson for Americans to take hold of in the wake of this sheer assault on our faith in humanity.  Even as we mourn for the three people whose lives have ended far to abruptly after far too brief of time (all three were young), we must recall, even in its complexity and difficulty, for now is really the best time as the emotions are most raw, the innocent lives that are lost on a daily basis around the world especially those deaths attributed to the actions of our own government.  It is essential, I believe, that in this time of mourning when our anguish is at its height that we remind ourselves that for each daughter and son lost in Boston countless other sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and relatives have been erased by explosive devices dropped by remote controlled robots without conscience and without remorse.

To put this in perspective, we have witnessed an attack on civilians that had as its principle purpose to maim many and kill, and to incite hysteria.  America has, at this early hour, lost three lives.  On the same day in far away Waziristan in Northwest Pakistan a drone attack has killed 5 people and wounded at least seven others.

No one should get the idea that bombing the grandstands of a sporting event is in any way justified or condoned because of the killing of civilians in Pakistan, on the contrary our condemnation of both of these wicked attacks must be resounding.  Our global condemnation of assaults on innocent bystanders must override our fears for our safety and our lack of understanding of our fellow human beings' beliefs.  It should be our greatest endeavor to create a peaceful global coalition that condemns violence of any sort but most especially against noncombatants.  This episode and others like it should be our call as Americans to enforce the cessation of the drone wars that have only increased over the past 5 years of leadership under a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  

President Obama has claimed, "But make no mistake: we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this. We will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice."

If America feels this way about the merciless action in Boston's civic center, should we not ask ourselves how Pakistani officials feel about American bombs killing Pakistani citizens?  How do the families and friends of slain victims feel toward America?

Should Pakistan vow to inflict their full weight of justice upon the United States?  Should all of the families and friends of victims of US attacks all around the world wish the same justice be brought to America's shores?  Keep in mind that these are people who know their attackers.  The know who to hold responsible for the deaths of their comrades - again, innocent bystanders.

Some would argue that the drone attacks target militia, al Qaeda members, or the nebulous "terrorists", but far more evidence indicates that a majority of innocent civilians are dying as a result of guided missiles fired from our drone ships.

Make no mistake, in no way is this a slight on the tragic loss of life my comrades have to come to grips with in the wake of the destruction that has taken place in Boston's city streets.  The intention here is to shout out to all the innocents who are dying, all of the needless, unnecessary, and flagrant deaths occurring everywhere around the world.  This is also a missive of hope that perhaps some of America's quest for vengeance might be tempered with the admonition of our own wrongdoings and our own maledictions of death and atrocities, which are far more extensive than the drone attacks which I have briefly mentioned here (one need not look any farther afield than our own hemisphere to find American injustice and rampant murder).

After the barbarous murders in Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg issued a quiet call of defiance to his countrymen: "The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation."

This is the promise that ought be the free world's continued resounding cry:  More democracy, more openness and greater political participation for everyone regardless of age, creed, color, or nationality.  I firmly believe this should be America's greatest lesson from the callous and heinous acts of destruction in Boston much like it should have been in the wake of the attacks in New York or Oklahoma.   

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