It's been almost 2 weeks since I left Elbing. I've been to Kentucky, then to the Alabama gulf coast, and then out to the south western desert country at Tucson, AZ. On Monday I loaded carrots at Nogales, AZ heading to Jessup, MD. When I was deciding where to go from Nogales I had several options, including the Boston area. At that time the acts at the Boston Marathon were still heinous plans in the minds of the perpetrators. Since I've been to Boston several times this spring already, freight out of Boston is scarce, and since I've never been to the Maryland Produce Market I decided to head to Jessup.
After loading in Nogales I started driving north towards Tucson then turning east on my 2300 mile trek. About 30 miles north of Nogales there is a "wetback" check along I-19 (slang term for Homeland Security checkpoint). As I rolled up to the check point I noticed a heightened sense of activity. One of the ironies of these check points is that most of the security officers are of Latino appearance with Spanish surnames. Maybe that's the proper way to address the laws these officers are expected to enforce...or is it just a way to have steady employment in an area of depressed wages?
I have a routine listening schedule of various channels on my satellite radio. About 2 PM I typically flip between several different talk shows searching for a topic that interests me. Today wasn't any different until the top of the hour news came on. From that point on I was riveted to the news channels as the events of Boston unfolded before us. The emotions that I experienced varied as the hours of coverage rolled into several days of non-stop reporting. Numerous times I had to turn on some mindless music or just turn it off for a while to give my brain a rest. I also routinely check my e-mails on my smart phone. One message startled my thinking about the bombing in Boston. Pastors Ray and Rosie asked for prayers concerning Ryan Wiebe and his group of runners at the Marathon. Randall and Raeanne were understandably concerned about Ryan. Now this became personal to me! He's one of us! I know someone who was a potential target of the terrorists! He was a member of my childrens youth group. We have a picture of him with our daughter at his high school prom. Thankfully the next message was that Ryan was OK but we still were asked by his parents to pray for those whose lives were dramatically altered by those 15 seconds of violence.
As the hours wore on I listened to the talking heads on radio try to keep us interested in the timeline of the Patriots Day bombing. At times I know the reporting was sensationalizing the news. But if I were thrust into a situation of this magnitude how would I report? Could I remain 100% objective and not let personal or corporate bias change the hard facts? Probably not. Were the terrorists home grown such as the Oklahoma City bombers, who practically lived in my backyard, or was this part of a multinational group? Was it part of a jihad based on radical religious beliefs or strictly an isolated case of vengeance?
The answers to many of those questions were slowly revealed as the hours wore on. I must say I was amazed by the detail that law enforcement used to methodically dissect the millions of frames of photos and other information they used to narrow down the search to two brothers. The dedication to getting the facts concerning this act of terrorism was impressive.
The acts of mercy and care given to the victims by the bystanders and medical community kept the death toll from being greater than it could have been. Yet even one injury is one too many. What would have been my response had I been near the epicenter of the bombs? Would I be willing to risk my own life to save another's? The teaching of Jesus about true friendship flashed before me as I pondered this. I'm thankful I live in a country were excellent medical care is readily available. Not everyone is so lucky when tragedy strikes.
Somewhere crammed into the Boston bombing was the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX. Although many more people were killed and injured plus the destruction was exponentially greater, since it was an accident, not terrorism, and in a small town it seemed to be crowded off of the radar screen. Unlike Boston, the people who volunteered to be the first responders were the ones who gave there lives hoping to protect others.
But the question of why these two men chose to do this violent sequence of killing still wasn't answered to my satisfaction. Their actions are not isolated. We have seen numerous acts of violence here in our country and around the world. Almost daily we hear about some act of terror being perpetrated against our fellow humans. Whether it is human trafficking, forced slavery, terrorism, mental or physical abuse, economic or political control, social status, etc. the results and the motives are closely related. The tactics might be different but the intent is the same.
I realized that the more I thought about these acts of violence the solution to them became clearer. No amount of laws will ever make our world a safer place. There were hundreds of laws the Jews followed, some punishable by death. The Romans had numerous laws....some ended in death on a cross. We have laws piled on top of other laws yet they are broken with no regard for them. Some look to government for solutions. Others think organized religion will protect us. Yet 2000 years ago Jesus rebuked both groups. I believe His words are the same for us today.
What I see happening in the world today is the continuation of the age old battle between good and evil. Between the powers of darkness and the light. Between right and wrong. I believe Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus are still pertinent today. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.