Well, what if instead of the media frenzy–like an explosion with all kinds of debris flying around, a surreal continuation of those explosions–what if instead of the media whirlwind we’re getting in these first forty-eight hours since the tragic bombing at the Marathon, the reporters–such important representatives of our culture–very respectively covered the hospitals to inquire and report on the conditions of those of the two hundred injured yet there, conveying our best to them, and reporting back to us concerning how they’re doing, and even, if allowed, giving them a chance to speak to us… and tailed the acts of courage that continue from the instant after the bang and on past the now I am writing in.

          And what about the search for the bomber/bombers?  Of course I know how unrealistic this is, I can even feel myself being careful as to what I say because I know how deep the indoctrination is on this score, how passionately we want not just to find the culprits and punish, but to hear the details of their being captured… so, before ducking, I’ll quickly blow the bubble up with the image of a society that allowed the detective work to happen with a minimal amount of attention going in the direction of the investigation… that is, a minimal amount of attention going in the criminal’s or criminals’ direction… since we have become, so my imagination spins, a population simply appreciative that our nation has those officials who will do this dirty work for us, who themselves are heroic enough to willingly do it without the need for the reams of attention or glory that goes with the job as of now… while we continue to focus on the soulful deeds done and ‘doing,’ the healing and reconstructing.

        The terrorist or terrorists engaged us, as he or they must have desired; and we remain engaged, as he or they desired.  Now we hold him in some kind of imaginary ring where we say–imagining our words empowered so as to be able to be like fists striking back, inflicting pain: ‘Oh yea, oh yea, you think you beat me?  Ha, no way.  Make us cower?  Take that!  We are tougher than you think, you… you….’

         It’s the most basic revenge scenario, acted out inside our minds and practiced from our playground youths, reinforced in endless films, tales of  my might having the pleasure, the delight, the thorough satisfaction of doing something violent to the bad guy.  How often such scenes have been enacted in the private chamber of our thoughts, but at times like these, they’re shared by a city and nation’s population.

         I suppose this is the way we recoup psychologically… I suppose.  It’s sure the wagon of rhetoric on which most all of us climb aboard.  I suppose that’s what we need.

         But I’m just going to imagine for a second that someone came over and hit my wife or daughter or son, perhaps twice, even hard enough to break a jawbone.  Yea, I’d hope and expect he’d get caught, even hope I’d instinctively leap to my beloved’s defense.  And I’d expect something along the lines of  the justice system safeguarding others from such a one, a sentence delivered {though I personally would rather it be a lock-up that included intense psychological therapy.}

         But he is not really my focus, nor do I want him to be.  Since the days of the Bible when the justice systems God called on us to instantiate {in the last of the Noahide Laws} weaned us from having to feel personally responsible for justice, freed us from needing to personally avenge harm to my family in favor of giving such tasks to the state’s police… since those days, civilization has meant I have the opportunity to emphasize caring, loving, supporting over fighting and hating.  I don’t really want to remain engaged one moment longer than I have to with someone of the sort who would do the sort of thing that I’ve imagined to my family or the sort of terrible, unconscionable act that was done at the Marathon.

        How are those injured friends doing?  Tell me more about the courageous acts that happen in the moment and continue long past the blast, past even now.

        We as we have a personality and as I value my soul and want to know and be familiar with and come to identify with my Better Self, so ought we regarding our Self.  As is, in this cultural moment, I am free to have nothing to do with someone of that caliber, but I insist on not only having something to do with that sick soul or souls but giving him or them my near all!  And of course I am I and I am us.  Truth be told, I as an individual am not that free–the press, the true cultural power figures in our lives, really rules far too much of my focus.  Look what I am writing about.

        So, if there is something of a public discussion in our community lives, I for one am saying I’d sincerely rather not give so much to those sick people, it really does nothing for me psychically, nor, I know full well, does it do anything for my soul, and I do care about my soul and I do care about ours.  No, it is not enough for you to say to me, ‘You don’t like it, turn off the radio.’  I am not going to unplug from us for  I am us as well as me even in the depths of my heart.  I care about us quite as much as me.

         I’d really rather be out of that tortured ring for combat… and as well I am saying I wish there were some way we as ‘we’ could reconsider how we honor our selves, our souls in terms of what we raise and hold and go over and over and over as material for our precious minds and precious collective focus.   Looking at us from the outside, speaking to the class of Harvard thirty-five years ago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of the press enjoying the widest freedom in history, but continued to consider in his speech what it makes of this freedom.  Citing what he called a seeming need for instant and constant information, he said, “There is the slogan, ‘Everyone is entitled to know everything,’ but people have the right not to know… not to have their Divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk.  Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.  The human soul longs for things higher and warmer and purer than those offered….”

        A friend suggested that now may not be the right time to talk about all this.  But I wonder if perhaps it is the time. A few years ago, Rebecca Solnit wrote a remarkable book entitled A Paradise Built in Hell: the Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster where she tells of extraordinary mini-cultures that spontaneously rose in the most intense and demanding of situations: amongst survivors of earthquakes, war bombings, murderous rampages, government repression, etc.  In the four hundred pages we hear of people taking it upon themselves to supply diapers, medicines, protection for strangers; groups taking the initiative to set up shelters and soup kitchens; substantial relationships forming, mutually solicitous and not infrequently amongst folk who have seen each other for years without having ever struck up a conversation.  In the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, playwright Pauline Jacobson found herself wringing a mere acquaintance’s hands with an indescribable joy upon seeing him and feeling the same from him in return.  Dorothy Day, who was to become the most indefatigable of social activists, was eight years old when the quake hit and recalled her mother and neighbors busy from morning to night cooking hot meals as well as giving away every extra garment they possessed.  ‘While the crisis lasted,’ she later wrote, ‘people loved each other.’  Well, I thought, quite possibly now is the time to talk.



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