Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tragedy in Boston: An Open Letter to All of Us

I've been spending the last two days as I imagine most decent people in this country are. Deeply saddened by what happened yesterday and feeling desperately helpless.

In particular I can't get the face of little 8 year old Martin Richard out of my heart. He was killed yesterday while waiting with his mom and sister for his dad to finish the marathon. I'm reminded of a few years ago when my wife and young son were waiting for me there at the finish line in Boston - and it makes me break out in tears.

Like all of you, I've been watching the news reports. I'm praying for those responsible to be caught. But what happens then? Where will the news focus?

Let me ask you something: How many of us know the name of at least one of the murderers in the Columbine shooting? How about the monster from Sandy Hook? The killer from the Aurora shootings?

Now let me ask you something else. How many names of the innocent victims can we recite? How many of their lives and dreams do you know about? I'm not judging, just wondering why this is? Why are we like this?

Once the murderer from Boston is found, all of the news agencies will focus on him or the group of people responsible. They will go into detail about their thinking, planning, history and motives.

But here's the thing. Their motive is irrelevant. It's made irrelevant by the simple fact that to commit such a heinous crime against innocent people like Martin, they have to be deeply disturbed and mentally ill. Just as I couldn't care less the rantings of someone committed to a padded cell, I care nothing for what this person thinks or what they have to say. Because their thoughts, beliefs and any insights into the world is worthless. It's meaningless drivel. If they didn't have this cause, they'd be focused on another. The real 'motive' is that their sickness has reduced them to something not recognizable as a human being.

And while the authorities and mental health professionals hopefully may be able to decipher some useful information from this person's way of thinking to prevent future tragedies, there's nothing there for any of us. Absolutely nothing.

The news agencies won't change by themselves. They know what people apparently want to see. Politicians will start politicizing it for their own gain and self-served ratings.

But what if we all changed?

  • What if we started demanding our news to be about the victims, like Martin and Krystle Campbell
  • What if we turned off the news when they started giving the killer or killers more attention than they deserve? 
  • What if we told the news agencies this by sending them eMails and then followed up by ignoring them when they ignored our requests - and instead spent our time adding to humanity instead. 
  • What if we used that extra 15 minutes for our kids. Calling our family and friends. Volunteering, or just walking over to your neighbors house and tell them how much you enjoy being their neighbor?

What if everyone started making a habit of this? What kind of tidal swell would that create? I wonder.

So that's what I'm doing starting today. I'm sending this to the news agencies I watch. And I'm offering you to feel free to post a link to this page anywhere you want. Or copy and paste the text. Put it in your own words, spread it around - create a chain eMail.

From here on out, when I think of Boston, I'll think of Martin. I'll remember his name for the rest of my life and the names of the other victims that come out in the days ahead. I'll focus on the first responder stories and names of the other heroes from this tragedy. My thoughts will be of them.

I'm not doing this out of naive optimism. I'm doing this because I'm tired of feeling helpless. I'm doing this because I want our world to be a better place for my kids and for all of us.

For Martin Richard's sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of each other - please, please join me.