Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

It has been a rough week.  As an American, the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks hung a dark cloud over our heads.  Regardless of how detached you may be from the actual events, it is virtually impossible to not think about the horrific events that took place and the thousands of innocent lives that we lost in the name of.......of what exactly?  God? Allah?  American idealism?  Freedom?  The greater good?  I don't know, and I can't even begin to understand.  Little did I know that Tuesday morning would just be the beginning of a long and emotionally charged week.

Also on September 11th, a U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya.  I may not have known any of the people directly involved in yet another senseless tragedy but by virtue of being posted at another American Embassy, this attack hits all too close to home.  I may be living in a country where Americans are for the most part, liked if not adored, but that does not make us immune to the possibility of danger and terrorist threats.  Watching co-workers who had direct connections to the Consulate in question was agonizing as was hearing the international media report- and more often than not- speculate as what had actually happened.

I had awoken the morning of the 12th blissfully unaware of the tragedy unfolding in Libya and Egypt but haunted by the sights of the Ann Curry's report on Syrian refugees from the previous night's NBC evening news.  (Thanks to AFN, we receive our daily dose of main stream American news reporting twelve hours after the fact).  Reporting from Jordan her report illustrated the true human cost of the world atrocities currently raging across the globe. The images of young children, women, and the elderly, battered, bruised, and critically wounded as they poured into overcrowded refugee camps clearly showed me the ugly side of humanity.  Little did I know at the time, it also set the tone for the rest of the day.

While all of these world events were unfolding I was learning about a much more personal and closer to home tragedy.  Hearing the horror story of a friend who was fleeing an abusive marriage was both scary and emotionally draining.  It reminded me that regardless of our nationality, educational level, or socio-economic status, none of us are immune to the horrors of the world both abroad and in our very own homes.  

Like so many other tragedies that affect the world, they become politicized.  The death of diplomats abroad has become fodder for both political parties as each criticizes the other for what they may have said or done or not said or not done in response to these atrocities.  Unfortunately, such political and ideological attacks are not uncommon. All too often it is easier to blame the opponent for actions that are likely beyond their control than it is to look critically at what we (as individuals, a country, society, world, etc) have done to bring about such events.  On a micro and macro level, this is all such a sad state of affairs. 

Life is not all doom and gloom however.  The weather today in Tirana is so perfectly crisp and fall like that, when walking to a meeting, I had an extra bounce in my step. I took my time and appreciated how lucky I was to be able to freely walk down the street. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to enjoy such a simple pleasure.  When I returned home yesterday I was heartened to see Sidney's little blond head running down the street as he participated in a lively game of street football with other boys in the neighborhood.  Although he was by far the youngest, he was welcomed with open arms into their raggle-taggle group of Albanians.  Perhaps if children ruled the world all of the ugliness and conflict would disappear.  I know that tonight I will be safe in my own violence free home with my husband and son.  As a family we will eat and play together while sharing the individual adventures of our day.  I do not live in fear of violence within my home and know that we are raising Sidney in a caring respectful environment. 

Yes, life isn't always easy, pretty, or kind.  Despite this, there is hope.  I hope that someday we can all just get along.  We may never agree on such hot button issues as politics or religion but we can still be respectful of one another and our individual views.  There is a lot to be said for kindness and understanding. I keep coming back to the image of Sidney playing on various playgrounds throughout our European travels.  Regardless of the country we are in or the languages spoken, he never has any problem jumping right in and playing along with the other children.  If children can do this, why can't adults?

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