Boston Marathon bombings shouldn't allow us to slip into feelings of never being safe again

www.bethyam.orgApril 26, 2013 

APTOPIX Boston Marathon Explosions

People react as an explosion goes off near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan) MANDATORY CREDIT

DAVID L. RYAN — AP

The April 15 bombings at the time-honored Boston Marathon once again ignited media commentary reminding us we can never be entirely safe again. Commentators make statements about these kinds of horrific events as if this latest tragedy is the ultimate turning point. They say it is "taking away America's innocence" or "the peace we took for granted not so long ago" is "gone, forever."

It is time to take a step back for a moment. There is an understandable mixture of powerful emotions -- ranging from anger, fear and vengeance to philosophical questions about why morally deranged people would murder innocent bystanders. The adrenaline flows not just for the runners or the bystanders, but it can impact social commentators as well.

Do their forewarnings about America losing its grip on "never being safe again" create a siege mentality that casts its shadow of cynicism over a nation's psyche? Is that what we need at this hour?

I am not saying we should ignore the dangers that obviously exist within our own borders and I am not suggesting we turn our country into an armed camp either. I am, however, advocating that this is the time for Americans to draw from the well-springs of our faith in America and in God.

Yes, terrorism is a fact of life in America, but we do not have to become victims to the fear it intends to instill in us. Other nations have dealt with this challenge and have managed, such as Israel. Surely we can adapt as the Israelis and other countries with hostile enemies both domestic and foreign have learned to do, without sacrificing our cherished values.

Each time these terrorist acts happen the temptation to hate rises in us. Yet, the Torah tells us, "Do not harden your heart." We have always lived in a world where there was violence and where people committed violent crimes. When did these commentators think we lost our innocence -- because I am not sure when we ever had such innocence.

Of course, we have to be more aware of the possibilities of terrorist acts in large public events. Sadly, that is a fact. Yet, does this mean we abdicate our faith in humanity or in our nation? To the contrary, it means we must grow closer as a nation, caring for each other because the shrapnel of a bomb does not distinguish between rich or poor or race or sexual orientation. Faith in God can focus our energies as a society to refuse the terrorists the victory they seek, which is to destroy our spirit and our way of life, turning us against ourselves.

I urge all of us to mourn the dead of this recent brutal attack and to pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded in Boston. May this prayer give us perspective remembering that trust in God may be the medicine we need to hold firm to the America we love and to the America we are committed to passing on to our children.

The issue is not about ever being safe again or losing our innocence, rather, the central point is summoning up inside us the spiritual fortitude to strengthen our resolve and reach out in prayer to a higher source that will sustain our broken hearts and at the same time prevent us from indulging the temptation to spew our anger against any specific ethnic group or religion in this time of national sorrow. Our ability to maintain our humanity in times when there is a temporary adrenaline rush to abandon hope in the future is what makes this nation great.

"When evil darkens our world, give us hope.

When despair troubles us, give us hope

When we stumble and fall, lift us up

When doubts assail us, give us faith

When nothing seems sure, give us trust

When ideals fade, give us vision

When we lose our way, be our guide

That we may find serenity in your presence and purpose in doing your will."

Columnist Rabbi Brad L. Bloom is the rabbi at Congregation Beth Yam on Hilton Head Island. He can be reached at 843-689-2178. Read his blog at www.fusion613.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter, @rabbibloom.

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