This isn’t what I intended to write about today, but my mind won’t calm down enough to focus on my planned topic. I can rant about my cluttered house some other time, when it might matter to me. Right now, I can’t see any value in pondering the mess I can’t seem to clear out. Talk about a trivial pursuit.
Instead, I’m thinking about a woman in my town, somebody I see fairly often, more in the summer because our families spend time at the same club, but I see her in the winter as well, since we are neighbors and often when I am walking my dog, she is running or walking her dog, although lately her beautiful, tow-headed boys seem to have taken over that job. We don’t know each other well, but over the years we have stopped to chat about this or that or the other thing. I’ve always liked her just fine and felt a connection because my husband grew up with her husband’s family and her husband’s older siblings have always been friends of his (and ours).
But I really knew little about her, separate from her husband’s family. I didn’t know whether she grew up nearby or in a close family or how she felt about her parents or her siblings. I certainly didn’t know anything about what her parents or siblings did with their lives or whether or not they were people who made a difference in the world.
Now, though, I know a little bit more. I learned on Thursday that this woman’s brother, Glen Doherty, was one of the four people killed in the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Wednesday that also killed the US ambassador John Christopher Stevens.
Like you, when I heard about the attack and the murdered diplomats, I was horrified. And sad. Sad that people died. Sad that it may have been in reaction to some thoughtless person’s prejudices put on film. Sad that we still live in a world where we think of each other as us and them, instead of just thinking of each other as us.
Today, when news turned to Egypt and Yemen and more uprisings in the Muslim world due to anger at Westerners, Americans, I felt sad and angry. Angry because people are so quick to lash out, so quick to see the bad and dismiss the good, so quick to forget that human life is precious. I understand that we need to stand up for what we believe. I understand that we need to have our voices heard. What I don’t understand is why we find it so hard to stop and consider the consequences of our actions. The consequences, also, of our words.
My heart breaks.
It breaks for my neighbor’s family who lost their brother/son to this senseless attack. It breaks for all the families who have lost family members to war or terrorist acts. It breaks for all the families who have lost family members due to our inability as individuals and as groups of people to respond calmly and thoughtfully to cruelty or insensitivity or ugly actions.
I now know that my neighbor’s brother was a hero. He was a combat-decorated Navy SEAL who served the US Navy for nine years. He was positioned on a rooftop when the US military rescued Army Private Jessica Lynch, who had been captured by Iraqi forces in 2003. He also played a role in the breaching of palaces of former Iraqi leader Sadaam Hussein during the Iraq war.
I learned this through an article in the Boston Globe, which you can read here. There is so much more about him that I learned through this article and that makes me even angrier and sadder about what has happened.
I know that there are many men and women out there who put their lives on the line for me and you and our country every day and I admire them and am in debt to them. But it sure brings it home when somebody you know loses her brother. I can’t imagine what that must feel like. I hope somewhere within that pain and devastation is a sense of pride for who he was as a man and a soldier and citizen of the world.
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