I was in Seattle when I heard news of the Boston Marathon bombings. I had just finished attending the White Privilege Conference with quite a few Quakers and other AFSC staff. The conference provided many days of illuminating discomfort.
The images of the explosions and the immediate aftermath are searing. I pray for healing and for all those impacted. But I also turn my attention to how this act of violence might be used – against Muslims, to justify increased “security measures,” as a justification for war.
A poem seemed the best vehicle to express my sorrow. The full poem is below and you can see it and share it (as led) online.In Peace,
“No more hurting people. Peace.”
- Martin Richard, 8, killed at the Boston Marathon bombings
The blast sends shock waves
Waves of fear, of anger, of confusion
Waves of caring, of love, of tenderness
Images of the explosions and of the bleeding cut to the heart
Who could do such a thing?
The day after the bombings, CNN runs ads for home security systems
“Don’t wait for someone to rob you, call now to make your house safe.”
Why waste the opportunity to make money?
Let’s peddle the illusion that security can be bought
A “security expert” talks about how Al Qaeda used the same kind of bombs
The implication is clear: “terrorists are Muslim.”
A young Saudi man, a victim of the bombing
Is “tackled” while running from the blast
“He looked suspicious”
Is “guarded” at his bedside in the hospital
His apartment is searched in a “startling show of force”
His roommate questioned for five hours
“Exhausted runners… kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood.
If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil—that’s it.
Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid,” says Obama.
True that. Except…
Holding our breath
As afraid of the aftershocks as we are of the initial blast
Wondering what retribution might come
What horrors this bombing might justify
Instead, can we breathe?
What might Martin Richard ask of us?
Pray for Boston, for Newtown, for Yemen, for Pakistan
Pray with our feet for healing
Maybe the dead are longing
For the living to use our hands
To stop the next blast now
To give our blood for love
To put our bodies on the line
To end this cycle
To have faith there is a finish line in the marathon for peace
“Moving from harm to healing is a focus of AFSC’s work all over the world. In 13 countries and 37 U.S. cities, AFSC works from the understanding that peace begins with healing from the trauma of war, violence, and other forms of harm. The interruption of cycles of violence through healing lays the foundation for peace.”
Please post widely in meeting newsletters, in Friends journals, on Facebook and twitter, and elsewhere.
Sandy Branam, a member of Savannah Monthly Meeting of Southeastern Yearly Meeting, created a painted journal of the 2013 AFSC Corporation Meeting, including her trip to Philadelphia and back via the train. The meeting itself felt gathered as Friends engaged with business and the issues AFSC addresses, and these paintings capture that spirit.
What do safe communities really look like? That question has been the focus of many in Denver, Colo., a city that has been home to many immigrants over the past 20 years. Listen to the voices of community members working with AFSC to support the rights of immigrants in the Denver area. Subscribe to the podcast here.
Please join us in holding Michael's family in the Light. Michael McConnell, longtime regional director of AFSC's programs in the Midwest, died on Sunday, April 7, after a long struggle with cancer. Michael became Regional Director for AFSC's Great Lakes Region in January 1990, and in June 2012 for the new Midwest region.
Have you signed up to be a Meeting/Church liaison and want to learn more? Lucy Duncan will be hosting an orientation call on Monday, April 22nd from 7:30pm-8:30pm EST. For call-in information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 27th Friends Relations Fellow Madeline Schaefer hosted a conversation with Mike Merrryman-Lotze, AFSC’s Israel/Palestine Program Director, and Anne Remley, a member of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, on how Quakers can and are supporting the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement. Listen to a recording of their conversation here.