By Paul Ang, MasculinityU Guest Blogger
It is with a heavy heart that I feel the need to write this piece, if not out of a need for a constructive outlet at this moment. As many have become aware, there were a series of explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which resulted in the injuries of at least 140 people and the unfortunate loss of 3 lives, at the time I write this. The perpetrator(s) and the motives of these events are still unknown at this time. It is important to become as informed as possible and to not jump to any conclusions rashly. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families; for a speedy recovery and a swift reunion with loved ones.
Among many thoughts, a common thread keeps returning to my mind: How real, how personal, how close to home; does violence have to become, before the overwhelming majority of people stop reacting and start being proactive and become willing participants in efforts to end violence?
No matter the motivation; race, gender, class, political or religious ideals; violence leads to the same result. The same unfortunate and unnecessary conclusion has been seen with ever increasing frequency, and there seems to be no indications of any change in this trend.
It troubles me, that, only in the immediate time following such blatant acts of violence, people find the willingness to engage in any conversation, positive or not, about violence. To me, an unwillingness to engage in an open discussion is the first step towards violence. Even with the best efforts of those already committed to ending violence; the individual responsibility and ownership of preventing further violence becomes so diffused, it becomes hard to recognize. How can we put out a fire by continually turning our back and stepping away until it burns us again?
If we, as a society, aren’t willing to engage in a dialogue, outside of time of crisis or grieving, are we inherently condoning violence? I can’t help but believe this to be true. The prevention of violence isn’t a bracelet to be worn, or a Facebook or Twitter photo to change for a week; it is a year round, lifetime struggle. We all need to buy stock in “Violence Prevention, Inc,” because we are in a buyer’s market. It is not sustainable to have tragedies like the Boston Marathon, like Stuebenville, like Sandy Hook, like Aurora be the fuel source for a movement towards ending violence.
I can only hope, that a result of growing up in a world where horrific images and acts flood the news; that the young people and children of this nation, and the world can begin to rapidly develop the ability to empathize and be compassionate more frequently than reacting with anger and more violence. There is a power in numbers, and bystanders overwhelmingly outnumber any other group. It is unacceptable to remain complacent, silent, and unengaged. I challenge myself, I challenge you, your friends, your family, strangers; to become proactive; to become an investor in the preciousness of life and the ability to live free of a threat of violence in all its forms.
Regardless of your background, regardless of your level of understanding and involvement; each of you has the opportunity to make a difference. The contributions every one of you is capable of making, no matter how small they seem, are so valuable. If each one of us can just take one step forward today, towards the goal of creating a violence free community, just think of the collective distance we will have covered together.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” If we challenge each of ourselves to carry even the smallest ember, the faintest flame; so that together our love, our warmth and our light will be so brilliant, no darkness can prevail.