The universe is vast, and powerful, and scary. And really, I don’t think it cares much, one way or another if human beings live or die. Anyone who has gone camping in the wild or has sailed on the ocean will likely relate to that feeling of facing a force, a source of energy so powerful that it could wipe you out in an instant, if it wanted to – if it cared to. But whether I am here today or tomorrow, the universe will go on. To it, I am nothing. The soft breeze of a summer wind is equal to two bombs going off at a Boston Marathon is equal to a lioness giving birth to a cub is equal to a vulture pecking at a wolf carcass.
The universe accepts all, tolerates all, simply is as it is, whether we like it or not. This reality can either render us motionless and sink us into despair, or we, too, can emulate it: accepting this moment as it is, right now, in all its ugly beauty or its beautiful ugliness. But feel indifference? I reject that. Let’s not embrace that, ever.
What happened today in Boston was terrible. To the families who lost loved ones, and to those who were injured during the event, I am sorry for your suffering. We don’t know who did it yet, or why. But this terror of not knowing when violence will strike, that’s what will live on in the minds of the ones who were there and to a nation still on edge after September 9/11. It’s the terror of not being in control of your own destiny. It’s a rude reminder that whether we exist or not, the world will keep on turning. That fragility of existence, is hard to shake. And sometimes it’s not pretty.
How does one take an event like today’s and make sense of it? Even if we discover that it was a terrorist act in retaliation for one thing or another, that uncertainty will continue to gnaw. One can never truly know where the next crackpot lurks. Because that’s what terrorism does best; it suffocates your soul until it squeezes all the joy out of your existence. And you become convinced that your neighbour is the crackpot, and you learn to trust no one. But what you lose in the process is your humanity. Without which you are nothing.
In this life, we can commit ourselves to helping each other, to creating space for each other, to healing each other. That’s not what the people behind these explosions chose. Their act smacks of rage, perhaps of (self)-righteous indignation. Their act serves as a reminder for why we must stay ever vigilant of the darkness in our souls. Because it’s within all of us. And if we do not bring it into the light, befriend it, and disarm it, it will damage us.
It becomes more and more urgent that each of us stake our place in this world, claim our voice and speak out against the violence that has too long plagued our species. As the facts roll in about what happened and why, we owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones to remember that what we say and do matters. The examples we set, the lives we live, the beliefs we espouse. It all matters.
And while the universe is indifferent to our pain, our existence, the universe also contains within it creatures capable of love: and we are one of them. We can reach out to one another and seek to build bonds so strong that we feel safe despite the universe’s cold embrace. We can understand that meaning doesn’t arise from some predestined path we’re told to walk on, but from the moments we dare to challenge that path, to embrace our freedoms and our fears, together.
I am afraid but I will no longer remain silent. I am fragile but I will be strong. I am angry but I return my anger to the universe, free of charge. Our world is ours to build, with care, with hate or with indifference. The universe accepts us whichever way we come. I know which path I would rather walk.