The sound of a bomb blast woke me up this morning.
To be honest, it didn't scare me.
We got reports all day about gunfire at the traffic police headquarters, about policemen killed and injured, about hostages being taken.
That didn't really scare me either.
You know what did scare me? When I was heading to lunch and there were reports of one gunman left and we were worried about whether students would come to our afternoon workshop and wishing that the incident was over so that we didn't have to worry. My coworker turned to me and said, “Isn't it sad that we are almost hoping that someone will die?”
It's so easy to get caught up in the numbers. To hear an explosion and wait for the report that the bombers have been killed. To read news reports that list five casualties, three casualties, ten casualties, and forget that “casualty” means that someone is dead. A person is dead. A person who had parents and siblings and children. Someone who had hobbies, who liked to hike or read or play soccer or stand on the roof to enjoy the sunshine. Someone who had passions and dreams and plans.
A good friend of mine was killed in a climbing accident last summer, and every since then, I haven't been able to think about death the same way. It's so final. When someone dies, whether we call it a tragic accident or a casualty, that's the end. They will never read a book or play soccer or eat pineapple again. Death is death.
I'm not so naïve as to think that I can eliminate death from the world, especially when I'm living in a war zone, but that doesn't mean I have to wish it on anyone. I understand perfectly well that war causes death and that conflicts don't end because you say pretty please, but that doesn't mean I can't mourn the senseless loss of life. How did I become so callous that I could sit in an office and hope for someone's death because it will make my afternoon more convenient? When did we become so accustomed to casualties that we forgot what the word really means?
Bomb blasts don't frighten me. I'm not afraid of danger or of death. But losing the ability to see the enemy as people instead of numbers, forgetting how to empathize, not realizing that those statistics were human beings with families and interests and dreams...that terrifies me.