Sunday, April 21, 2013

Don't Worry Folks, There's Plenty More Violence To Go Around

Act #111:  Don't stop being outraged.

This week after the unfolding of events in Boston, culminating in the capture of one bomber and the death of the other, I've been left with an unsettling feeling of sadness and overwhelming emptiness.  I join the rest of the country in shock and dismay in the violence that took place and in the preciousness of lives lost and pained.  And like many of you, for the past week I have held the three victims and the countless others who were injured close to my heart and in my prayers. But while one part of me understands the collective protectiveness and unwaivering spirit of the American people - to stay glued to the FBI pursuit of the bombers and to celebrate in their ultimate demise - a larger part of me is just simply sad.  

I work at a rape crisis center.  For the past year, every waking hour, for sheer survival, I have had to learn to manage my feelings towards the bad guys.  I've had to do so because if I allowed the anger, disbelief, and hatred to consume me, I'm afraid I would not be an effective advocate to survivors, nor would I be able to focus my energy on long-term systemic culture change.  When I witnessed the country tuned in to watch the play-by-play in Boston, a part of me was jealous that as Americans, we don't seem to display the same anger over the thousands of other Americans victimized by violence daily.  That we don't demand the same justice for those who are brutally raped every day.  That we don't pour all of our resources into catching and stopping perpetrators of sexual violence, or healing the victims in the same manner that we did this past week.  And we could say the same for victims of every day gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, hunger, homelessness, and poverty. 

I can't help but imagine what America might look like if we were all outraged by these things, and refused to turn away from them or go about our daily lives, until justice was served - and the perpetrators were stopped dead in their tracks.  I can't help but imagine what America might look like if layers and layers of government officials committed all of our resources to identify rapists, murderers, batterers, and child abusers with the same focus and gumption that we saw in Boston last week.  What would America look like if every single one of us just couldn't look away from all the warning signs of violence happening around us every day.  When a woman shows up to work with bruises.  When a child shows up to school hungry.  When an intoxicated teenager is left at a party with a room full of young men.  What if that's all we could talk about and our Facebook newsfeeds were inundated with outrage and disbelief that just last month, a woman in New York watched her 10-year old daughter brutally raped in her own car, and was then killed by her rapist in a struggle to let her daughter escape.  What would America look like if we all cheered when her killer was apprehended.  If we all then vowed to do everything in our power not to let our country be attacked by this senseless violence again, ever.  What if we all stood in solidarity by that 10-year old girl and offered her the outpouring of healing and support that she will need for the remainder of her lifetime?  What would America look like if our president got on national television to make a statement everytime someone was sexually assaulted?  That would of course be impossible - because he would be on television every two minutes.  Or everytime someone's life was shattered by gun violence?  He'd have to have his own cable network.  

Why are we more outraged when a Chechnyan immigrant hurts innocent runners, seemingly in the name of religion than when "our own" repeatedly, time after time, continue to hurt our innocent family members, friends, neighbors - every day, every hour, every minute - for no reason at all?  What would it look like if we were in solidarity behind a cause that might not get the same play-by-play television coverage, or the same law enforcement resources, or it's own Facebook profile badge?  America, I hope we don't let the capture of these two brothers end our outrage towards senseless violence.  I hope we don't let the solidarity we felt last week die down.  I hope we remember what we're feeling this moment - that as Americans we will prevail, we will overcome, we will support, and do whatever it takes to protect one another, and to ensure that the millions of remaining ticking time bombs hidden deep in the very fibers of our society, have no chance of being our own worst enemy: 




  1. Great stuff! I've been thinking the same thing! Apparently we only get fired up for what the media tells us to get fired up for. :P