This afternoon I overheard a reporter (on “Fresh Air”) who has covered terrorist attacks all around the world. Now he is reporting one in his hometown of Boston. He said it seemed very strange to be covering a terrorist attack in which the victims had Boston accents. It made him think he needed renewed dedication to remembering that every terrorist attack is in somebody’s home town.
We get inured to attacks in strange places. In the same newspaper in which I read of Monday’s attack, another report in the back pages told of a car bomb (in Iraq, I think) that killed 50 people. I imagine that people in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Somalia are not overwhelmed by the deaths of three in Boston.
Naturally, domestic crises always seem most significant to us. An accident in which my brother got killed inevitably would strike deeper than an accident in which eight people I have never met lost their lives. We care more about those closest to us. I don’t think we can or should help that.
We can, however, try seriously to grasp the nature of other people’s losses.
I haven’t quite forgiven the Spanish professor who, on 9/11, lectured his American students in Barcelona (including my daughter) to the effect that America had it coming. Even in the more moderate form of British intellectualism, I don’t like reading that America overreacted in a vengeful manner. In other words, I feel strong distaste for heartlessness when it’s directed my way.
Maybe, though, I should rethink the way I react when I read stories from Afghanistan.