Regardless of where or how we are situated with respect to Boston, Watertown the Boston marathon, geographically and emotionally, almost all of us, what can I do?
It strikes me that in fact, there is so much we can do, as we see the recent events in Boston as a part of a phenomenon in whose midst we live-the cycle of violence and retribution or as Biblical scholar Walter Wink calls it, the “myth of redemptive violence.”
Regardless of who these young men were and from what country they hail, there is no question that they were motivated by some kind of desire to punish and destroy in a very public way. We cannot change that now, but we can push back against impulses to punish and destroy and in so doing do our part to dismantle this myth. We can seek restorative justice in every corner of our lives—instead of allowing our rage to lead us to plots of revenge, we can use it to lead to plans for intervention-in poverty, in marginalization, in imperialism, in our own tendencies to be numbed, desensitized, and entertained by violence.
We can refuse to believe that religious beliefs lead to violence. They don’t. Trauma, fear, and profound hurt lead to violence.
We can make eye contact with one another. We can ask questions. We can revolt against a culture of isolation. We can show other people, in our houses, in our dining halls, in our classes, in our places of work that they matter. We can know that we matter. There is a myth that knowing we matter makes a difference, but it’s not the kind of myth that is false. It’s the kind of myth that is a great, enduring story, and that story is as much a part of our history as is the myth of redemptive violence. Let’s tell that story.