The Boston Marathon, senseless violence and stupid rage

A hazmat biohazard team near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon at Boylston St, after the explosions there.
A hazmat biohazard team near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon at Boylston St, after the explosions there.

It’s 3:19 p.m. and I’m sitting in a coffee shop. I was going to do some light reading, but the book I brought, Sam Harris’s “Free Will“, is on the table, unopened. I’m clicking “refresh” over and over on a Web browser on several different news websites, hoping that one of them is going to post, “UPDATE 3:20 PM: Meaning Behind Tragedy Uncovered, It All Makes Sense Now.”

It’s a routine that’s become all too familiar to us in the past couple of years. I watched as one of the best and brightest (and so, one of the rarest) politicians was senselessly gunned down by a smirking idiot. I watched a theater full of enthusiastic film lovers gunned down by a lunatic with dumb hair and dumb reasons to kill. I watched two dozen tiny children cut down by a pathetic loser — armed, as it happens, by his own mother, who was no doubt frightened by all the mass shootings going on. There have been many, many senseless mass shootings in between those, but for reasons of lower body count or less auspicious headlines, we have mostly forgotten about. And how can we forget about those young men motivated by their religious ideology, operating perhaps on the stupid belief that striking fear into our hearts will make us bow down and submit to theological rule?

As of now (3:27 p.m.) we don’t know who planted the bombs in Boston. Presumably, someone planted them and patiently waited as people came together around one of the few things it seems we can agree on anymore, the triumph of human athleticism. Presumably, the surface reasons won’t be any different. Bored young man with a stupid grudge.

Of course I haven’t really be witness to any of these tragedies. I’m participating, like most of us, in what has come to feel like high-concept theater. Groups of people, wholly innocent of ideology, are wantonly destroyed by high-tech weapons or explosives. News sites go haywire. People like me, thousands of miles from what happened, glue our eyeballs to our Twitter and Facebook feeds. News sites roll out their live updates pages, specially programmed for just such incidents, to give us up-to-the-second insights. Specious news reports are issued, then withdrawn. The president makes a speech. We buckle down and wait for the next idiot with bad hair and a pathetic grudge to make his great statement to the world.

So this is what gets our attention. This is what makes us sit up, take notice and glue our eyes to something. The stupid, angry bros of the world, compensating for their inadequacies and frustrations with the real life guns and bombs they enjoyed using in video games. Angry, stupid men, venting their rage because people aren’t submitting to their own Invisible Sky Man and his many angry clerics. Irrational, vicious, gnawing stupidity.

Long ago, I remember people sitting up and gluing their eyes to the TV — the lucky ones there to witness in person — to watch the space shuttles launch. The best and brightest on earth, from many nations, boldly exploring new frontiers and opportunities. But it’s just a faded memory now, and the details of it escape me.

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The Evil in This World: The God of Hate

The fact that God is the God of Love doesn’t mean He’s not also the God of Hate. The opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference. Your Bible doesn’t teach a Zoroastrian-style dualism. Satan is a fallen angel, and we don’t need to make him a god. Don’t you see? None of us understands how to love properly, and we always hate far worse.

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Tiffany McCallen

I feel almost like I intruded into your life reading that, Sam. It was such a raw and honest post. Sometimes the world just feels awful. Awful.

Eric Blauer

Visceral post Sam, I hear your heart both the wisdom & frustration in it.

I must protest though, I’m a big fan of the “Sky-man” and “video games” and I think they can produce men and women who serve the good of our country like the soldiers we saw risking life and limb in Boston.

Bring a warrior doesn’t make one wicked or prone to evil.

Eric Blauer

“Being” typo :/

Sam Fletcher

In my upset state of mind, perhaps I was too harsh. By “invisible sky man” I don’t mean a loving creator. A loving creator wouldn’t order us to kill each other. Only imaginary deities do that, ones we made in our own image, and ones who just so happen to hate the same people we do.

Anna Marie Martin

“I’m participating, like most of us, in what has come to feel like high-concept theater.”

THAT. high-concept theater. I have imposed a self-directed media fast on myself this week. It’s theater, violence sells – we love it when f-ed up individuals take it out on innocent people… yet – yet, there’s a voice that says, “no. this is not okay.”

I had just moved to Manhattan in August 2001 to go to seminary. then, KABOOM. another flare-up of post-traumatic stress disorder…

this week has been all about self-care for me, and creating an environment where I can live with myself, breathe gently, and try not to retraumatize myself or others. and I know our culture doesn’t value this…

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