By now you should have read about the Boston marathon bombings that happened on Monday, 2.50pm in US time.
It saddens me to read of such news.
I remember I awoke on Tuesday morning in Singapore with thanksgiving in my heart, grateful for a loving God. I remember feeling very heavy hearted when I read of the news, on my way to school and wondered about how the victims and their families of the bombings would feel. I wondered why a loving God would allow such atrocity to happen to innocent people. I wondered how victims would struggle with God for allowing such tragedy to happen to them. The irony of my meditation of God’s love for man / me that morning was not lost on my train ride to school.
Then in class, for a presentation skills workshop, we were given 15 minutes to prepare for a 1 minute speech on any topic. Instinctively I wanted to talk about God’s love from the biblical passage 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. But in a tertiary education class of mixed religion classmates, I couldn’t just quote from the bible out of nowhere. So I decided to present on Love, namely Eros, Philos and Agape, a summarized version of information I took from The Seeker of Truth’s blog post here.
— My 1 minute speech —
Eros is known to be erotic love between man and woman. It is physical attraction where one finds the other attractive and is in love. Its disadvantage is said to be self-centered, because one party loves the other because it makes him or her feel good or happy.
Philos is known to be friendship, where two people meet and connect mentally. It is better for a man and woman relationship to begin as friends and get to know each other before developing the relationship further.
Lastly Agape love refers to love that is unconditional. It is likened to a Mother’s love for a child which is oft unconditional. However the true depiction of Agape love is divine and found in God’s love for us.
As a Christian, I believe that it is out of God’s Agape love for us that he sent his sinless, only son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross so that we may be saved and reconciled with Him. He died on the the cross and he resurrected three days later.
To give a deeper insight into Agape love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes God’s perfect love as such:
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”
Eros describes physical love, Philos mental and Agape, spiritual and these are the fundamental make up of a man’s body, soul and spirit ways of loving.
— end of 1 minute speech —
It is by no coincidence that I meditated, shared and decided to write about love. I did so because I’ve been sad about a few things and I wondered why. And the more I meditated about Love, the more I realize, experience and believe the lyrics of Eagle’s hit song “Love will keep us alive” to be true. Although the song speaks and refers to mostly physical and emotional love, of physical shelter, nourishment, protection and companionship, I believe it rings true for Love in all forms.
As humans we are wired for love. We seek love, we crave love. Often a lot that we do, we do it to earn love. Whether it’s a baby’s cry for a mother’s hug, a toddler’s cry for a toy, no doubt selfish but the toy to the toddler means a parent’s material love for him/her. We work hard in school to score good grades to earn our parent’s approval, another form of love. Men work hard at work, to bring home the money for their families, as a testament of their love for them and also to earn their love.
And when we are in love, we can’t sleep because we want to spend time talking to the other party, no matter how late it may be. YET we can wake up early the next day just to hear from our loved one again. It doesn’t have to be a romantic lover. It works for close friends and loved ones. When you have love to look forward to the next day, no matter how late you’ve slept and how early it is you need to get up, you do. It works for love for work and school as well, to gain the approval/love of your tutor/boss/colleague/classmate/friends.
And that is why as I pondered about the significance and power of Love in my life, coming across the atrocity of the sudden onslaught of Boston bombing saddens me.
While I gave a speech on love, some of my classmates shared their thoughts on the Boston bombings. My classmate and friend, Malika shared that such bombings happen almost daily in Pakistan and Iraq in the Middle East region and it is just sad that one such case in US creates such huge media waves globally but we probably don’t know and care about those happening in the Middle East.
I read further about the Boston bombings, mainly from Daily Maill here and an extremely informative post from Mother Jones here. I cried a few times. I cried when I read about how hero Carlos Arredondo went down to help victims, seconds after the bombings went off. Despite the death of his son at the age of 20 when he served in forces in Iraq 2004. And his second son died in 2011, because he never recovered from his brother’s death. A man who has lost two sons and grieved, but he didn’t choose to live in despair, he went to help those who suffered and were in need.
Carlos Arredondo helping a victim from the Boston bombings. (Credits to SMH.com.au)
I cried when I read about the death of Martin who was only 8 and such a wonderful cute boy. His mother had to undergo brain surgery and his sister who is 6, lost 1 leg. His elder brother who is 12 managed to remain unscathed. And they suffered because they were waiting for their dad to pass the finishing line at the marathon. I cried imagining the grief that Martin’s dad has to go through, his younger son dead, his baby girl who lost one leg and his wife who had to go through a brain surgery.
Martin Richard holding up a message of peace which saddens us further considering how he died. (Credits CBSnews.com)
I don’t think I’ve ever posted on my blog about this before but the aftermath of war and related tragedy impacts me. Fortunately for me, I have always experienced peace in my life in Singapore, so the first time I remember feeling second-hand grief over war was during Venice Biennale 2007. I saw many artists’ works on the aftermath of war from the Middle Eastern point of view and the American point of view. The former artists painted and photographed the aftermath of war on their land. Buildings in ruins, after bombings and raids. Kids playing with humans skulls because that’s the few form of entertainment they have. Women in the typical muslim head covering, hijabs, photographed/drawn listless, fearful and lonely in bare hospitals. From the American artists, we see the entire gallery wall filled with tiny passport sized photos, each with the image of a soldier lost to war, dead. And that was only a portion from the actual dead count during a span of time which I can’t remember how long but it was relatively quite short and shocking to clock so many deaths. It is hard to describe and adequately convey the impact of these artworks individually and collectively, but I was deeply affected.
So I am decidedly anti-war and terrorism. I simply cannot understand why innocent lives must be sacrificed. I cannot help but feel emotional and tear when I see women and children helpless, suffering in the face of war, experience trauma and having to pick themselves up in the aftermath of lost loved ones, ruined lives, bodies and buildings. Let’s also not forget the war veterans, who return from war fields bearing physical and mental trauma as well.
I don’t have the answers to the questions I pose. It pains me to know of people suffering, whether they are middle eastern or american, eastern or western, victims or aggressors(knowing these roles are debatable depending on the POV). Above these labels, I remember them as man and women, boys and girls, sons and daughters, family and friends. Each, precious and filled with beautiful potential. If war and terrorism can be avoided, if pain and suffering can be diminished at the hands of those who control it, I can only pray that it be so.
I don’t have the solution to obtaining world peace. Or a convincing reason why a loving God allows such suffering to happen. But to all those who are suffering in war and tragedies or the aftermath of it, I wish you Christ because He embodies Love to me and Love will keep us alive.