How to Heal After Boston and Other Terrors

Makeshift memorial for victims near site of the Boston Marathon bombings (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Makeshift memorial for victims near site of the Boston Marathon bombings (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Amid the investigation and news cycle following the Boston Marathon bombings, Colorlines contributor Rinku Sen offers advice on how Americans can mend after such violence.

When I heard about Boston, I wanted to push it away. I'm so exhausted from the cycle of sorrow, panic, defense and more sorrow that every incident of mass violence evokes in our national consciousness. There is beauty there, in the heroic actions of people who tried to take care of others, but I was too tired even for those stories. I didn't want to let any of it happen to me.

But there's no getting around it. The likelihood of some good emerging is strongest if we allow ourselves to live in this moment for all that it offers. The likelihood of not taking a wrong collective turn is strongest if we live with the grief long enough, deeply enough, to really feel it. The likelihood of uniting ourselves as members of the same community is strongest if we let that compassion extend to all those who will feel the ripple effects of this attack for long months and years, if we hold in our hearts both the victims and those who will be accused of causing their pain. Our only hope for pulling ourselves back together is to name the cycle and change its pattern.

Here's what has to happen after such an attack. First, we have to take care of the people who have been hurt; they will feel this trauma for the rest of their lives. Then we have to protect the people who may suffer collateral loss from retaliation by vigilantes. The Twitter feed Yes You're Racist was very busy last night retweeting accusations and threats against Muslims and Arabs.


Read Rinku Sen's entire piece at Colorlines.

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