Like everyone else, my day was turned upside down yesterday by the news that two bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon. On Facebook, people seemed to immediately want to say that they were feeling this event. They seem to want to send hugs.
I don’t mean to be harsh. But this kind of response goes beyond just being trite. I’m not so horrible as to blame people for being artless at a time like that, but have we disconnected our brains? Sending Facebook fuzzy thoughts would work for a sad day or a friend’s bad news. But coming after a bombing, it’s as if we don’t want to do the hard work of dealing with this reality.
Greg said something on Facebook last night that got a lot of Likes and Shares. At the risk of sounding too incestuous, I’m going to quote him:
Just saw my first “wear purple tomorrow for Boston” FB meme image. Stoppit.
Support might take the form of donating time, money or blood to those affected by this event. Support might even take the form of advocacy, if you passionately believe policy changes might keep something like this from happening again. And if you are a person of faith, then of course you believe prayer is support. (Whether *talking* about praying on FB is effective is another debate entirely.)
Wearing purple is not an effective way of helping people impacted by today’s events. It’s just one more box to check off in an age when talking about being concerned and talking about taking action is confused with actually getting something done.
I worry about us these days. I worry that we’re less and less able to identify and combat evil at just the time when we need to get better and better. We don’t like to find out that people do monstrous things, with only the mildest excuses. We’d rather find ways to turn everything into a kind of pre-processed spread, just another opportunity to leave teddy bears and send virtual hugs (which have no warmth and do nothing at all). We’d even rather try to redirect the focus into something political — the Sandy Hook shootings by an insane man have almost wholly been subverted into a blame-the-weapons campaign.
Anything at all, rather than think that this is what we’re capable of, absent the love and fear of God.