The universe is testing us.
Some of the fittest people in America came together to run an iconic race. They gathered in a great city, the site of many a historic skirmish, to compete. Pushing limits and setting records. They came in the spirit of being better, faster, stronger. They came for the promise of glory and remembrance.
How can one celebrate victory in the shadow of tragedy? A tainted finish line, a noble cause bombed to cinders. Violence that stole not only life and limb, but dreams and achievement. Humanity taken down a notch by one of its own. I don’t believe that terrorism is an isolated incident. Whomever plotted and planted those bombs harbored pain dark and deep, festering and growing and spreading like cancer. Until the pain exploded, taking with it the Boston Marathon.
It doesn’t matter how strong our country is. We are only as strong as the weakest link. We gossip, we bully, we ostracize. We are greedy, racist, sexist. Many of us don’t love our neighbors; we barely know them. Of course, we have good reasons to stay distant. Here is an example from my life: my new neighbors found a legal loophole and used it to build an indecently tall house that blocks a good portion of our view. How can we possibly knock on their front door (which faces the side street so they could build higher), and introduce ourselves, knowing that those chimneys (a further view impediment) are fake? We can see the smooth concrete tops from up here. The truth is that I am embarrassed to knock on their door. How can we act neighborly when we are offended? How do we forgive? How do we move on? It is quite ridiculous for me to be upset, actually. I have everything I need and some things that I want, including an obstructed view (it’s better than nothing).
Like me, the ones who ran in the marathon have so much: food, water, resources, health. Whomever targeted these Americans did so out of hatred and jealousy; out of fear that these marathon runners are superior to the sad, lonely, desolate, sick ones; out of a desire to bring them down. Though I would like to think that we all come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing, I don’t. We come with the suffering and the honor of our ancestors, passed down through our DNA, and we leave with the memories of this lifetime etched into our spirits. Science has proven that nothing disappears, it only changes form.
Maybe we cannot make fear disappear, but we can transform it into love. I saw so much love yesterday. On the faces of the heroes, in the Facebook friend who posted a phone number, offering a ride out of the city to anyone who wanted it, in the repeated condolences and prayers and tears. The moments of silence. The inability to think or talk about anything else. We don’t want to watch one another die senselessly. We are beginning to realize that those who are repeatedly hurt will fight back. They will bring guns to schools and bombs to sporting events. They will make others their victim as they have been victimized.
I don’t know how to break the cycle, how to replace fear with love. I certainly have my own reasons to be fearful, and occasionally those reasons keep me from sleeping. But someone does have an idea: the Dalai Lama believes the answer is meditation. I have seen this man speak in person (albeit from the top of an auditorium) and I can say he is unlike anyone else. A living prophet, a saint, a spiritual leader. If he believes meditation is the answer, I believe it’s worth a try.
The test has begun, it started long ago, and each senseless tragedy is another line, another question, another reason. How will we respond? Will we fail and perish, or will we thrive and survive?
Do you meditate? If not, would you like to learn? Have you or will you introduce meditation to your children?