The terrorist attacks in Brussels this morning were indeed terrifying. Sights and sounds of people wounded and buildings shattered are horrifying and since we see them collectively and repeatedly as TV networks rerun details as they unfold and analyses of how and why they happened they seem to fill the communal consciousness. People great each other saying, “Did you hear about it?”
It feels to me as if it as is certainly appropriate to feel saddened. Families waiting for a normal day to unfold have been bereaved of a loved one. Families rushing to bedsides of wounded relatives are traumatized. People near the attacks who were not wounded are likely in shock. All of us around the world watching the coverage on TV are surely shaken both by the pain of seeing other people in pain perhaps also by the thought, “That could happen anywhere. It could happen to me.” It could, but it is not likely. We can certainly feel compassion but we do not need to feel frightened. For the most part, people travel all over the world every day in monumental numbers and do it safely. And people survive accidents and illnesses. Our bodies are vulnerable even without doing an activity that might be considered dangerous. The only part of us that can be invulnerable is our capacity for benevolence.
What seems most important to me is to hold today’s events with as much compassion as possible. I feel compassion for the people directly impacted by the attacks, but also for everyone (including me) who feels saddened. I also feel sad for the mothers and fathers of suicide bombers everywhere who will not see their child again.
I don’t know how to finish the sentences, “Life is…” or, “People are…” Life happens, all the time, and events have consequences whether they are volitional or natural. Earthquakes and tsunamis often have catastrophic outcomes leaving bereaved survivors. Shootings in school yards or post offices or movie theaters also leave bereaved survivors. Life is everything. People are complicated, and sometimes capable of planning and doing terrible things. Others, most of us I believe, are moved to console and to care.