This should not be normal.
It should not be routine or common to read a news headline and reach for my phone to WhatsApp my parents or my siblings or my friends to make sure they are all safe. To make sure that they were not in the wrong place at the wrong time this time. And by wrong place I mean that they were not at the grocery store or on the bus or metro coming home from work or in the airport waiting for a flight or visiting with friends at a cafe somewhere.
Can you feel it in your gut? That hot angry feeling that just comes bubbling up until your cheeks are warm and forehead is flushed and your eyes are teary. That feeling that says, “No! Not again. This is not right.”
That’s the feeling I get every time “BREAKING NEWS” appears in a tweet or the voice of the news announcer that drifts through the restaurant I am eating at or the headline that appears at the top of my homepage. When I hear the news, my first hope is that it is not a city I know, a city I love.
And then I feel guilty because I know there are families in those cities too whose loved ones are not coming home from the grocery store or from work or from school or from traveling abroad. And I mourn for those families too.
But when it is a city that I know, a city that I love, the pain cuts all the deeper. I have stood on that corner where a desperate young man just took his life and the life of 7 others next to him. I have taken a bus from that depot where someone left a carbomb timed to explode right at rush hour. I have waited for so many flights in that terminal that is now covered in the blood of perpetrator and victims.
My heart hurts and my head is heavy and arms are leaden because I do not know what I can do. But I want to make it stop. Who can I talk to? Who can I listen to? Who can I offer a helping hand to? Who can I love? What can I do?
But I do not want my heart to stop hurting when it does happen. I do not want my anger at the injustice to become anger at the people involved. I do not want to stop being shocked because I keep hoping and praying that each time is the last time. I do not want this to be normal or expected.