In the wake of tragedy…

Police officer guides pedestrians at Boston MarathonI live about 3,000 miles away from Boston.

About 1,400 miles away from Waco.

In short, I live too far away.

Tragedy in the US is nothing new. We have had acts of natural disasters, domestic terrorism, assassinations, spree killings, and more just in my lifetime. Yet, every time it strikes I get a huge lump in my throat. I feel incredibly helpless. I feel sad.

In that moment, most people take to their social media accounts and post their feelings. It’s completely natural. Your heart hurts and you’re sitting at home or in your office or at school and there’s nothing you can do. I, for one, am usually shocked. Especially if I feel a connection to a place (such as I’ve been there or I know people associated with it).

In the wake of the explosions at the Boston Marathon this week there was an outpouring of grief on social media. Thoughts, prayers, well wishes, sorrow – mostly in 140 characters or less. I think everyone knows that words can’t adequately capture the moment of an immense tragedy, but you have to say something.

Then, as has happened before on social media, came the angry backlash against the folks posting grief statements. “Stop praying and do something,” one tweet said. I even saw one that said “prayers are useless stop flooding the stream with them.”

It angered me on two counts: 1) I believe that prayers are not useless and 2) in a national tragedy everyone has the right to express their grief especially on social media.

Twitter and Facebook have come go-to sources for news (though, often misleading news) and I get that, but they’re also the human experience told in short messages. Let people say/feel what they want.

And, if you are feeling completely useless because, like me, you’re 3,000 miles away. Consider donating to the Red Cross. I know, it’s not very sexy or seemingly heroic, but they’re always the first to respond to a tragedy. Even if you can’t give a lot, it can help.

And pray. I won’t be yelling at you if you do.

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