The Boston Marathon bombing is yet another act of violence that we are now metabolizing as a society. I use the word “metabolizing” intentionally. Just as the body takes in what we eat and metabolizes it, we have taken in this senseless violence, we are trying to digest it, and we are struggling to incorporate it into our understanding of the world. We’re doing what we did with Columbine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, and all the other things that we’ve faced in the last years. We are trying now to UNDERSTAND it because then we will know how to make sense of it and what we ought to do with it. We need to find out who did this and why and then figure out how to prevent it happening again. We’ll have more canine bomb-sniffing units at the next marathon and scads more security in other ways, but at the end of the day, are you like me? I still think that senseless things make no sense. Understanding something about it satisfies me for a fleeting moment, but then I’m back with how difficult metabolizing the senseless can be.
The difficulty of metabolizing the world and our lives as they are is what brings many into therapy. Needing to understand and needing to digest are all a part of our humanity. Acceptance of things as they are is very, very difficult. And it doesn’t mean what most people assume—that we approve of it or like it. Acceptance is an important part of successful metabolizing but it is a process of allowing ourselves to see and experience the depth and vastness of reality, whether it is good or bad. As tragedies keep happening, are we able to stay emotionally awake and engaged with all the pain of it? Sometimes we can live as if we are lactose intolerant and the world is made of milk. In other words, we live as if we CANNOT metabolize the events happening around us.
Metabolizing is a tricky business. There is much that I want to reject—throw up, if you will. But somehow, this is our world and we live here. How is your worldview or your faith helping you with the difficult process of metabolizing this attack?