I hate bombs.
In my 45 years I have had six friends and colleagues killed by bombs both on the Air India bombing in 1985 and in the London bombings in 2005. As a 10 year old kid living in England during the IRA letter bombing campaigns of Christmas 1978 I remember being completely terrified whenever letter came through our mail slot.
I hate bombs.
And this afternnon I am sitting at a Starbucks in West Vancouver, BC and the man sitting nthree tables over from me is proclaiming in one of those know it all not quite stage whispers about what should be done about the Boston marathon bomber. He declares that this is what the death penalty is for. The man should be killed and his ilk should be eliminated, he just said.
And my experience of hearing that just now was literally chilling. To hear the hate in his voice, a man sitting here absolutely materially unaffected by the bombings in Boston, declaring in public a vaguely murderous intent as a way of expressing outrage was chilling.
When I heard about the bombings in Boston I treated them as news. Sad of course, but nothing I could do about it. They seemed just as distant as all of the other bombing stories we hear on a daily basis expect that of course I’ve been to Boston and American cities don’t get bombed like that a lot, so it’s unusual and disconcerting. But I never felt an iota of fear, until just now, sitting in a peaceful distant Starbucks in West Vancouver. I am warily watching this man, although by now he seems to have calmed down.
How we talk matters. How we choose to model a response to events in the world can contribute to make us more resilient or more fearful. Bombs go off every day, literally and figuratively. They don’t scare me anymore. People responding to that news with a powerful need to make a public declaration about killing someone worry me more. This is exactly what bombers are trying to do, to create violent and chaotic responses to their actions and to spread fear far beyond their immediate sphere of influence.
Interesting how we help them do that.