I’ve made my home, my career, and my family here in Minnesota. But I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts, born and bred. So I’ve been watching the news over the past week on a roller coaster of horror at the bombings, sadness for the victims, fear for friends and family back east, amazement at the tenaciousness of volunteers and professionals on the ground helping or tracking down the alleged bombers, relief that despite some close calls, all my friends and acquaintances are unscathed (despite some being a bit too close to the blasts for comfort), and a host of other emotions too.
It’s been quite a week.
I’ve also found my thoughts turning to the kid in custody, Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Let’s be honest with ourselves: this kid likely had little to no idea what his brother was getting him into. His life is effectively over, one way or another, and he is just nineteen years old. He lives while too many victims don’t. He has his legs while too many victims no longer do, but this is a young man who is about a biscuit away from still being a child, and he’s likely to pay a terrible price for his actions. One more tragedy on top of a tragic week.
I’ve also been thinking about a photo I shared on Facebook, which was apparently taken in Syria the day after the bombings. It’s this one:
Powerful on several levels. These people take time out of their day, which is probably already pretty stressful, to send condolences to an American city halfway around the world when, as they tell us, this kind of thing happens every. single. day in their country. Only it’s the government doing the bombing there, but you know. Details.
As Americans we tend to get caught up in our own lives, and in a news cycle that sanitizes world events like revolutions and government-on-populace violence. The Boston bombing was horrific, that is undeniable. But imagine that happening once or twice a day in every major city around the country. That’s not a hypothetical; for far too many people around the globe that’s simply Tuesday. We do well by our values when we remember what’s going on outside our own little worlds, and try to help where we can.
I think we also tend to focus on the sexy news stories, especially when cultural terrorism is involved. And make no mistake; terrorism like the bombings is catnip for the news media. But there was another pretty big story last week that was basically ignored: a fertilizer plant in West, Texas caught on fire, drew hundreds of firefighters to fight the blaze, and then exploded. And then the real story started: turns out the plant had been stockpiling over 200 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which should have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security but was not. Because, you know, ‘Murka. Oh, and the plant’s last FDA inspection was in the 1980s. Because, you know, freedom. Oh, and the surrounding town built a school and a bunch of buildings way too close to the plant, and those buildings were obliterated in the blast, but that’s where they had space to build because it’s…uh…Texas…wait, brown people! Get’em!
The whole thing stinks, and not just from the fertilizer. Dozens of people died, a huge amount of property damage was done, and all due to self-evident corruption and malfeasance. But since there are no young foreign men to prosecute, will the perpetrators of this corporate terrorism go unpunished for their crimes against the humanity of West, Texas? Will we hear any more about it, since the aftermath of the Boston bombing is still very much in progress?
I don’t know. My thoughts this week have been all over the place; Boston, Syria, Texas. It’s a crazy world we inhabit.