My heart is heavy today, as I know are all of yours, about the violence and tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings.

I can't help but notice as is often the case in these type of public targetings, the victims represent minorities. In this case, those who lost their lives were one woman, one child, and one Chinese national. None of these are likely to be the type of person who committed this horrific act; yet each of them has suffered death as the result of an individual who has achieved a capacity for objectification to such an extent that he will do anything to radically annihilate the obstacles in the path of his hatred and desire for vengeance, whatever the motive (still unknown) may be. 

I say "he"—yet still tread lightly with the opinion that while the perpetrator of violent acts such as this is often a male, it is really not the male person that is at issue here, but rather what we often regard as the male archetype. Whether you choose to call it patriarchal, logical, unfeeling, disconnected, violent, objective, or objectifying, it is a mindset or way of being in the world that is the opposite of the feminine archetype or way of being—that is, indirect, soft, seeking to connect and dissolve ones issues rather than targeting and attacking them. It is a way of compassion, of seeking the path of least resistance—like water, or like love.

Both men and women, regardless of their gender or physiology are capable of both ways of being in the world. It is only important to note that such violent and explosive acts often get the attention in our culture, supported by media re-iterating and re-enforcing the story over and over again, rather than the unsung acts of kindness, generosity and compassion that take place time and time again every single day.

In the face of such violence and our resulting fear—because it IS natural to feel fear about our security and the world we live in right now—we must be watchful about our own responses. It is tempting to run the other way, and perhaps even more so, to freeze where we stand and pretend, dissociate, numb, or blindly wish that what is happening is NOT happening. But that kind of disregard can only serve to maintain the terror unleashed through the act of violence. As James Hillman said, "The eye and the wound are the same"—indicating that we can do as much damage by simply standing by and watching as the initial act of violence itself. I wrote a blog post on this concept a few months back, Watching without Seeing: A Pathological Cultural Disorder? if you'd like to read more about this idea.

Meanwhile, I am encouraged to see stories making their way about social media that talk about some of the leaders and heros who ran toward the blast rather than away, in order to offer help and support to those who were suffering. In honor of this feminine way of being in the world, this way of soul, I encourage each of you to "run toward" the source of the carnage, figuratively, of course, but here on the Alliance to share your thoughts, voice your fears and sadness, and to hold a space in community where we can all witness the tragedy, grieve and be in our loss, whether it loss of life, loved ones, senses of safety, or innocence. 

If you have a moment, read the beautiful poem posted here in the Blogs section by Alliance member Silvia Behrend, callled "A moment ago" where Silvia pays homage to our human capacity to witness and hold the infinite stories of tragedy that play out in our human lives. Thank you, Silvia, and thanks to each of you who feel compelled to share your thoughts and feelings here in community.

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  • Good afternoon Bonnie - thank you for your astute wisdom and providing a link to your article which was good to read in the light of the aftermath in Boston.  We watched the Interfaith Service this morning on TV, which was comforting along with that one sentence you extended to Silvia that for me was a strand of pearls.  Peace + love Linda

    • Thanks for your reply, Linda. It's comforting to me to know you took the time to watch the service and that you have taken the time to respond. I know many of us are thinking about the tragedy--but sometimes it requires action to bring that witnessing into form. My thoughts are also with all those who have been touched by the West, TX, fertilizer plant explosion as well. 

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