What a week.
On Monday, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing at least three people (including an eight-year-old boy) and injuring more than 140.
On Tuesday, the FBI was alerted to a letter intercepted by the U.S. Senate Mail Facility which contained ricin, a lethal toxin. Three such letters were sent to President Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator and a judge.
On Wednesday afternoon, a mostly Republican minority filibustered gun regulations that the majority of Americans support, regulations that would have expanded background checks, increased funding for mental health resources, criminalized gun trafficking and protected American citizens from military-grade assault rifles.
On Wednesday evening, an explosion at a fertilizer factory in West, Texas, killed at least twelve people, with more than 60 people still unaccounted for. About 200 people were injured by the blast, including residents at a nearby nursing home.
On Thursday evening, gunfire at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resulted in the death of one MIT police officer. Later that evening, residents of Watertown reported hearing gunfire and the sounds of explosion, as the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing exchanged gunfire with the authorities.
These are America’s tragedies, moments that force us to hold our collective breath. They are moments that remind us that we live in a world that isn’t safe. They remind us that we aren’t invincible.
In the midst of all of this, we each have our own crises: a lockdown at a sister’s school, a hurtful email spread throughout the web. More pain, wreaking havoc on our hearts and minds, as if we didn’t have enough already.
And what is there for us to do? Sit in silence, waiting for the next notification, the tweet that tells us about one more round of gunfire, one more human being added to the death count. We try to keep our perspective; tragedies such as these are daily occurrences for many of our global neighbors. We have the benefit of constant information – or is it really a benefit at all?
I feel powerless. I am thousands of miles away, with nothing to offer those who are hurting so much. Do I give blood? Make a donation? These acts of support feel hollow, checking a box on a list that shouldn’t exist.
And in the back of my mind is that nagging notion that what I’m doing with my life doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make a difference. That this could be (should be?) a call to act. And if it is? What can I offer that means something? And what will tomorrow bring?
I feel powerless.