Thursday, February 14, 2008

Violence on our doorsteps

I woke up this morning to a story on NPR about the most recent bombing in Iraq. The part of the story that sticks with me: a 7 year old boy escaped. I wondered about the rest of his family, whether they were not so lucky, whether he had siblings who did not escape, what will happen to him now. Where did he go? How is he feeling? What happens next time? How have these events shaped his development, his personality, his beliefs and values? When does he feel safe? Does he ever get to feel safe again?

I then entered my day and got wrapped up in the normal chaos of my life... trying to remember how lucky I am when facing random obstacles. The roads are snowy and icy, but I am lucky to have a car to drive to and from campus. My assistantship is often exhausting and dull, but I am lucky to be working, to be able to attend grad school, to have so many opportunities to advance my education and occupational pursuits. Our sink is broken and the hot water turned off, but we have plumbing, we have a home that we own, we have heat and hot water. There are so many things to be thankful for.

This was emphasized even further when I left school today. I ran into a colleague who was visibly upset and stopped to find out what was wrong. Her mother works at NIU and her father had called to let her know there was a shooting on campus. She had not been able to speak to her mother because the campus was on lockdown; she did not know any details about the event, the shooter, her mother's location, or whether the crisis was still going on. And she felt like she was overacting because she was so upset and shaken.

Luckily, her mother was fine. The family will be able to reunite this weekend and take solace in one another, and they will probably all have to deal with the emotional aftermath of feeling so vulnerable.

I think of this event, so close to home and connected to someone I see nearly every day of the week, and I wonder how we would all feel if violence was a part of our everyday living... a possible and likely occurance that would follow us like an ominous, dark stranger... a heightened sense of anxiety, a growing paranoia, an ever-present alertness.

Over time, perhaps that would lessen and the constant sense of fear would subside... but the losses would always hurt. We would always be taken by surprise. The truly devastating events would forever alter our sense of self and shape our concept of the world.

Even if we escaped.

No comments: