A groundswell of loving kindness has arisen to counter the hatred, senseless destruction and inhumanity perpetuated by two brother terrorists in Boston a week ago.
Ordinary citizens stepped forward with unprecedented acts of heroism and generosity, local and Federal police went far above and beyond the call of duty restoring peace and insuring justice, first responders, EMT’s, medics and caregivers on the streets ran to the aid of those in need, massive crowds gathered across our nation and abroad (The London Marathon) to give tribute to those lost, injured and traumatized, sports stadiums and arenas sang the national anthem in unison and flag are at half mast across our nation. No doubt, countless acts of unsung compassion and philanthropy continue to blanket our nation with kindness every day.
In the words of my dear friend, Michael, who was at mile 19 when the two deadly blasts went off, “the inhumanness of the attack were counterbalanced by the endless acts of kindness by and for the runners.” Michael, and thousands like him, witnessed a generosity of spirit in the streets, hospitals, airports and hotels surrounding Boston — and spreading across America, reminiscent of the days and weeks following 9-11. Bostonians opened their homes and businesses, and shared Google Docs with names of volunteers and resources available; they opened their hearts in an unprecedented show of support for out-of-state runners. Runners spontaneously went straight over to Mass General Hospital to give blood. When news spread of victims having lost limbs in the bombing, impassioned offers of help came in from doctors and amputee athletes across the world.
These selfless acts of kindness may not trump hatred, or prevent it from rearing its ugly head once again, but they do pave the way for restoring our sense of humanity. Kind-heartedness asks us to slow down — and reaffirms the peace-loving side of who and what we are. It awakens us from malaise and indifference, mobilizes us to purposeful action and underlines the critical importance of kindness in our everyday lives, and our world.
Of course, we have much yet to learn about kindness … and its limits. What would cause the 19 and 26 year old sons of war refugees whose parents came to the US and who were afforded all the benefits of a free society, to align with jihadist beliefs and practices? What happened, or did not happen, that turned these boys into cold blooded murderers? What can all of us, not just the authorities, do to help identify, disarm, prevent (and learn from the pathology of) deeply disturbed young men before they become assassins? Finally, how might we become a kinder, less racially, ethnically, politically and religiously divided nation, find more common ground on which to live together and, in so doing, make our neighborhoods, communities and nation safer?
The trauma of Boston will, in time and with support, work its way through our nervous systems, brains and hearts. Continued acts of kindness, not only from others, but towards ourselves can make all the difference. Rather than hurry ourselves to “get over it,” and/or judge ourselves to be “failures” if the remnants of violence (i,e, grief, fear, outrage, sorrow, restlessness, etc.), continue to stir deep within us, we must be patient, encouraging and accepting of our condition.
This will take great patience and emotional self-care, things that may be easier said than done. But doing so will best insure that we get the help we need to move forward, rather than simply learning how to be good actors and “pass” for normal when that is not the truth.
The kindness arising across our nation and many parts of the world needs to be met by simple acts of loving kindness towards ourselves. In The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own, I write about how we can bring greater self-compassion into our life, and kindness into our community. Please share this with anyone you feel could use it.
Copyright Ken Druck, Ph.D., resilience expert, speaker, consultant, and author of The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Permission to reprint granted with proper credit.