The Boston Marathon bombings have created an outpouring of patriotism, support and prayer for the individuals and families affected by this tragedy. Runners quite literally went the extra mile in order to donate blood, citizens of Boston offered up beds and meals for traveling family members, all while declarations of support rung out from every corner of the world. Together, we mourned for Boston in solidarity, which was both necessary and beautiful, but this tragedy brought a troubling question to the table; have we neglected the value of non-American life?
Death is far more common in other areas of the world. In the same day that three victims were killed in Boston, 15 were killed in Iraq, seven in Palestine, six in Afghanistan. Why then, does Boston make headlines? Some have argued, that this is personal, this happened in our soil, it hits home, in some way we feel threatened and connected with event in a way that we might not be as connected to a death in India or the Middle East. Yet, mourning for the Boston attack has not only occurred in this nation, but rather all over the world. The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, expressed their disgust in an official statement stating that sharia law "firmly rejects assaults on civilians and doesn't accept any means of terrorizing people, regardless of their religion, color, or gender." On Twitter in China, Weibo, Boston Bombings was trending, and most comments were empathizing with the American people. Why does death in the United States come as such a hit home and abroad, while death elsewhere is often disregarded as a part of life? The high value for human life should extend to people outside of the United States. We might find it appropriate to look at Rawls in this matter, and state that our desire to defend others is developed from an unbiased original position that would not wish this for anyone else.
As Christians, we must have an imago dei (image of God) perspective. All of us are imprinted with a sense of human dignity because we were all made in the image of God. We should be just as troubled by the blood spilled on Afghan soil, as the blood spilled on our own.
There is no exchange rate for death. We ought not to treat these happenings from an American perspective, but perhaps allow our proximity to the event to bring compassion for areas of the world where bombings and tragedy are an everyday event. The touching acts of selflessness seen in the Boston Marathon should be repeated each and every day. We are called to mourn with all of mankind, understanding the deep pain in this world, and doing our best to alleviate it. So Boston, remember that day, not for your sake, not for the sake of our nation, but for the sake of our world.
-Jenny Hyde and Naama Mendes host Donkeys and Elephants, a political talk show at Gordon College. You can listen to them at www.gordon.edu/Scotradio.