A pressure cooker loaded with nails and ball bearings. That’s what the FBI now says constituted one of the two bombs that went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A pressure cooker. Seems sadly appropriate.
Our world today is jam packed with imaginary demons and boogeymen. All of them can be described loosely as “those people.” My life would be so much better if it weren’t for “those people.” That type of thing.
“Those people” is such a wonderful way of dismissing people you loathe. The term vanquishes humanity, individuality, life story, all that. The only things left are a set of superficial traits. Hair color. Skin color. Eye color. Religion. National heritage. Race. Sexual orientation. Gender identity. And so forth.
Hence, you get tirades based on something like, Those people with that color skin, that type of hair, those color eyes, that religion, that national heritage, that race, that sexual orientation, and that gender identity –which is not their birth identity — ruin my life because they _____.
Fill in the blank.
People who subscribe to this type of broad stroke labeling have been around since forever. Their powers have amplified, however, in the age of the Internet. No long are they left to stew silently and alone in their homes and scream at the TV, radio, or newspaper. Now they can scream on the Internet. They can seek out and connect with similar screamers more easily and have a screaming good time screaming about all “those people” who have wrought nothing but horror and turmoil in their lives. Sadly, we now have entrenched institutions in the media that cater to such screaming. One can hear it 24/7 on both terrestrial and internet based media.
They validate themselves, each other, and their ideas via these channels.
This is where the pressure cooker comes in. A growing, stewing, dare I say festering, pot of bile and hatred can only remain contained for so long before it starts spilling over and creating a real mess. And this is what happened at the Boston Marathon this year. Someone, a heretofore silent screamer, carefully planned and aired his or her rage in a way guaranteed to attract the most attention and inflict the most damage.
Those of us who lack this type of rage, or anything close to it, are left asking, why? And who would do such a thing? As of this writing, we don’t know the answer to either question. Jumping to conclusions is both dangerous and counterproductive.
And this gets us back to “those people.” When the pressure cooker became too much for the killer or killers, when they could no longer bear the imagined threat posed by “those people” whom they’ve loathed for so long, they struck back. They felt they had a right to do so and they felt that the people they were striking, “those people,” had it coming because they lacked humanity, not like the killer. The killer isn’t one of “those people,” therefore, s/he is cool. Or so their warped thinking goes. It’s easy to see how such “thinking” can become very dangerous thinking.
Bombings of this sort tragically happen the world over. They are just relatively rare in the US. But when it strikes close to home, one feels it that much more. I have relatives in the Boston area. Fortunately, they are all well. I have friends who ran the Marathon. Fortunately, they are OK, too. But in addition those injured and killed, the other casualty of this event is the institution of the Boston Marathon and events like it nationwide. Security has already been stepped up at sporting events and large public gatherings. Bomb-sniffing dogs are in high demand. Civilization dies when these types of measures become necessary.
I hope that a cycle of finger pointing does not ensue. I hope that those of us who would never dream of carrying out such heinous acts do not start shouting “those people” this and “those people” that as we seek and demand justice. I would much rather we calmly, doggedly, and methodically investigate the crime and capture the individuals responsible for it.
When that happens, civilization is restored. And the power of the “those people” haters is further diminished.
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.