In the midst of the insanity following the terror attack during the Boston Marathon I noticed a flurry of Tweets from many quarters calling for some pretty gruesome revenge on the surviving suspect. Among the notable, New York State Senator Greg Ball tweeted, “So, scum bag #2 in custody. Who wouldn’t use torture on this punk to save more lives?”
Understandable? Yes. A useful response? No.
Participating in the Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience (STAR) program at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, I understand with certainty that the instinct – in the face of such trauma as was experienced by people in Boston last Monday – is to seek revenge. People may then become caught up in the unending Cycles of Violence; acting out against others or themselves.
True healing begins when we break out of those cycles onto a journey toward truth, justice, mercy, and peace.
Easy? No. A useful response? Yes.
So glad you said this Tom. David Works has embodied these ideas since the shooting tragedy in Colorado Springs that wounded him and killed his two daughters. He chose to forgive the shooter and reached out to the shooter's family in order to break the cycle of violence.
Thanks, Phoebe. The Works family story is a powerful example. Others can learn about David's experience in the Fall ’08/Winter ’09, PeaceBuilder Magazine. “‘No’ to Cycle of Vengence” begins on page 5: http://issuu.com/easternmennoniteuniversity/docs/…
Your blog today echoes thoughts I've been having since yesterday when a workman at my house asked why we should spend all this money to hospitalize and give medical care to a terrorist we're just going to put to death anyway. Why wait? he asked. "Because we're better than that," is what blurted out. "To find out the real story" followed. But I didn't want to have the debate in the midst of his work on the house. So I've just been thinking about his statement and my EMU/CTTT-developed reaction. You're right, "kill the terrorist" is not a useful response. Sounds like terrorism, in fact! Eliminates truth (what happened, why), mercy (take care of the guy even if he harmed others), justice (hold a trial as our legal system prescribes) and peace – peace in our hearts and action in favor of peace in our communities. Thanks for the chance to organize my thoughts!
Good point, Tom. Now that I’ve worked at a mental health crisis center and absorbed the CJP culture, I can no longer watch a murder show on TV without empathy for the perpetrator, and with this Boston kid I sensed his suffering more than the victims. So much for my life as a TV watcher. Sigh.