I normally don’t watch television newscasts because they portray a world where murder is the order of the day, acts of kindness don’t exist and grief takes precedence over joy.
But there are times when I have to watch; times when there are acts so heinous that I must look at them with a steady eye, absorb them completely and commit them to memory.
The recent bombing at the Boston Marathon was such an occasion.
I tried at first to avoid the gory pictures and constant commentary about the bombing.
Instead, I focused on the many tasks that I’m accountable for completing each day. I took my daughter to school. I went to my job. I made phone calls, answered emails, wrote copy, edited video and tried to maintain a sense of normalcy.
I didn’t want to be consumed by the lingering images of severed limbs lying like butchered meat on a blood-soaked street.
I came home, just as I always do, and that night, I went into my 8-year-old son’s room to pray with him, just as I try to do most nights.
I prayed first, uttering the names of our family and friends as I expressed thanks for all that we have. I may have mentioned the victims in Boston. I don’t remember. Perhaps that’s because when my son began to pray, his words made me forget my own. His words put it all into perspective.
“Bless the little boy my age who died today,” he said. “Bless his family and help them not to be sad. And thank you that it was not me.”
Even now as I recall that small moment of compassion, I am moved.
Young victim remembered
I am moved because in those few words, my son expressed a world of understanding. He understood that something terrible had happened to a little boy very much like himself.
His name was Martin Richard, and like my son, he was a third grader who liked ice cream. He was a boy who was vibrant and joyful. He was a boy who very much deserved to live.
In that short prayer, my son showed empathy for a grieving family. He knew they needed to be comforted, not only by each other, but by God.
My son understood that senseless murders are not something we can solve alone. Nor should they be faced alone.
In cases where life is needlessly forfeited, we must come together. Not as Bostonians or Philadelphians or Americans.
In times like these, we should come together as human beings. Because as my son so eloquently and succinctly expressed, he could have been the one to die in such a blast. In fact, it could have been any of us.
I learned something from my son the night of the bombing.
I learned that in every circumstance, and in every bad situation, we should see a bit of ourselves, have compassion for others and be grateful that we were left behind to make change.
My son taught me that it’s not what we see on the news that makes a difference. It’s what we see in ourselves.