In the past 10 days, we’ve heard of two terrorist attacks: one in West Africa’s Ivory Coast (March 13) and one in the small European country of Belgium (March 22).
I first heard about the Belgium attack on the radio as I drove into work yesterday. My initial reaction? Big surprise.
That may seem callous and uncaring, but I don’t mean it that way at all.
Ever since 9/11 happened my sophomore year of high school, I’ve heard about one terrorism-related attack after another. Lately, they seem to happen more and more, and the target seems to be getting wider. There was Egypt, Nigeria, Spain, Norway, London and Paris. The beaches of Ivory Coast. A train station and airport in Brussels. Even places closer to home like Boston and Chattanooga.
I’ve had a variety of responses to it over the years, from fear to anger to helplessness to simply being tired of it all. Sometimes I listen to the radio for hours or comb one website after another trying to soak in every detail. Sometimes I change the station because, after a while, all the interviews start to sound the same:
“We never thought this would happen here.”
“You don’t think it can happen to you.”
“He had some wacky ideas, but I didn’t think twice about it.”
Then there’s the whirlwind of international statements condemning the terrorist acts with words like “cowardly,” “senseless” and “repulsive.”
I don’t disagree in the slightest. But I’m also not shocked.
After years of watching burning buildings on the news, hearing sirens go off in the background of a radio report, seeing photos of people covered in ash and blood, I think the best way to describe my response is this: utterly ticked off.
Every time I hear of a terrorist attack, I think of the bully on the playground who pushes a kid off the swing because he’s mad. What good is that going to do? It solves nothing, just harms someone else and makes others dislike you in the process.
Obviously terrorism is deeper and much more serious than that, but I do get tired of the insanity of it all—innocent people losing their lives in horrific ways while they’re just going about their business. Some were catching a flight or making their way to work. Others were running a race or meeting a friend for lunch.
I wouldn’t say I’m desensitized to it all—my heart sinks every time I hear of an attack, and I’ve been moved to tears many times after reading about the victims—but I would say the attacks are becoming a routine part of the news cycle.
I know there will be another attack. And another. It’s just a matter of where and when. I also know better than to think “it can’t happen here” because it can, and it might. No one is immune.
I’ve tried applying Bible verses to the situation, like the one about Jesus overcoming the world (John 16:33), or the one about how we aren’t given a spirit of fear but of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7). Those are definitely uplifting and true, but at the end of the day, I think the best thing I can do is pray for the ones who are committing these cowardly, senseless and repulsive acts.
As ticked off as I am, I truly believe most of them don’t understand the weight of their misguided actions, and only by changing their hearts will their actions stop. As Jesus once prayed for His crucifiers,
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”