That was the text message that came to me this morning: Has the whole world gone mad? It had already been a crazy start to the day with a flood of emergency alerts awaiting: Communities locked down. All mass transit closed. Officers shot, one dead. One suspect dead. Another on the run. Firefights in residential neighborhoods near my old office. Men with guns drawn on the roof of a place where I used to each lunch. The television on in one room; the radio on in another. Conflicting news reports. Images of heavily armed officers streaming from buses.
The week began with the terror of a bombing. It is ending with the chaos of a high-caliber manhunt.
Has the whole world gone mad?
The speculation has already begun: Two men on Russian or Chechen heritage. Are they disaffected individuals similar to Columbine? Or is this part of an international terror Web? There will be a lot more of this.
I think that it is time to ask ourselves some deeper questions: What societal stresses might connect the incidents from Boston to Newtown to Aurora and beyond? We seem to have entered into an arms race with our fellow citizens — is there any way that this can end well? We are awash in violent images on television, in movies, and in video games — is there any way that this can end well? We have embraced an economic system that has created great wealth for some yet great uncertainty for most — is there any way that this can end well? We have cut budgets for education, mental health, and other human services — is there any way that this can end well? We have tolerated toxic discourse among our public officials as the new normal — is there any way that this can end well?
It has been easy — at least on the surface — to retreat behind our screens and earbuds to a place that seems safe and orderly. It has allowed us to pretend that the growing chaos was somewhere else. No, my friends, it is right here. It is us. It is each of us who has tolerated this. That means it is me, too.
I do not have the answers to all of the questions that are flooding my brain this awful morning.
Messages have been popping in on my phone and Facebook non-stop. My first replies were a simple “all is well here.” Actually, it isn’t. We’re safe — but if this is the world we’ve created, all is definitely not well.
Peace and love to you, my friends.