Archive for the ‘Terrorism and Violence’ Category

I’m experiencing the same sort of shock now in returning home from Lebanon that I experienced when I first returned from Spain almost 10 years ago – the shock of violence.  The sheer amount of violence, especially against the young and innocent is shocking in America.

While surfing the internet this morning, I couldn’t help but read the following article: “6-year-old killed, 2 teens wounded in Englewood shooting.”  The title caught my eye because Englewood is my mom’s old stomping grounds.

Many people draw back when I tell them I’m living in the Middle East and Lebanon no less.  Their faces scrunch up in worry and fear. They tell me I’m brave, as though I’m a fireman rushing into a burning building.  In my opinion, I face no more danger there than I did here in the states.  In fact, I told my dad the other day, generally, I feel safer in Lebanon in terms of violent crime and theft than I do in my own neighborhood.  According to the travel.state.gov site “The crime rate in Lebanon is moderate, but both car theft and burglaries do occur. Violent crime and sexual assault are rare, although petty theft — such as pick pocketing and purse snatching — is common in crowded public areas.”

We all know that there’s no place that’s absolutely safe on earth, but maybe our fear radar should be adjusted.  We’ve gotten desensitized to the crime du jour in our country so much so that we think everyone else’s version of danger – Kidnapping in South and Central America, Bombing in the Middle East and Tribal violence in Africa – is somehow worse than our own.  I’m sure the family of 6 year-old Arianna Gibson of Englewood in Chicago would disagree.

My heart goes out to the family of 6 year-old Arianna Gibson, whose main concern was getting her hair done in time for her first day of school that was supposed to be today.

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Though neither of my grandmothers ever traveled outside of the United States, they each had commentaries for me about the outside world.

One summer I spent a few weeks with my paternal grandparents in Alabama.  Upon seeing me write a letter to a friend in the Philippines, my grandmother smiled and told me in her sweet matter-of-fact tone, “It’s good to have friends across the water.”

Grandma, I concur.  It is good to have friends across the waters.

She passed away before I made my foray into traveling.  So it was my maternal grandmother who eventually opined on my travels.

She was a straight shooter, who never hesitated in speaking her mind.  When I prepared to catch yet another flight to only-God-knows-where, she commented to my mother, with a bit of anxiety, “that girl never lets any grass grow under her feet.”

Living in the Middle East, while reading news from back home, I find her fears to be understandable and perplexing all at once.

Somehow in America, we have become immune to the spate of shootings, killings and violence that plague our country.  Just today, I saw that yet another student has found solace in a gun, this time in Nebraska.   As many have most likely heard, a student shot and killed his Assistant Principal and injured his Head Principal.

Similarly, I read that ex-Pentagon official, John P. Wheeler III was found dead in a garbage dump. As I read on I saw investigations being made to find a missing woman in Illinois, a mother failed the polygraph test about her missing child and a convicted killer could inherit his victims assets.  And still the list goes on and on and on.  One fails to realize how graphic and morbid American news is, until one is away from it.

Which is funny, because I think that was the root of my maternal grandmother’s fear.  It was her fear of my proximity to the news.  She was scared that as I traveled, I would travel closer and closer to the areas where bad things were happening, though the reality of the matter is that I was close to the headlines right where I was.

Though I’ve changed my time zone, and the crime du jour is different on this side of the world, I now find myself in close proximity with different headlines.

Each day I ask students if they have any prayer requests.  Since our return from Christmas break, the top three requests seem to mirror the front page of the New York Times.

  1. My Egyptian students asked that we pray for the families affected by the church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt. (talk about proximity.  I was a tourist in this city the Wednesday before the bombing)
  2. My Sudanese students asked that we pray for the country of Sudan as they prepare to vote on a referendum that will allow South Sudan to cede from the north.
  3. My Iraqi student asked that we pray for the Christians who are suffering in Iraq

In light of my grandmother’s concern, I’ve come to learn that no matter the location, the sting of death, loss, terrorism and violence is just as sharp.

Pray for those around the world who are presently suffering, whether for the freedom they seek, the possessions they own that others covet, the God they worship or the land they inhabit. No matter the language, religion, region or social standing, everyone longs to be free.