Boston marathon. There have been many shocking aspects to the events surrounding the marathon two weeks ago. However, it is the youth of this man that keeps coming back to trouble me. In the 80’s, there was a song that was number 1 in the charts for many weeks called “Nineteen" – the lyrics relate the fact that the average age of combat soldiers in the Vietnam war was 19, compared with World War Two, when the average age was 26.
I think that is what saddens me about the 19 year old who is charged with designing and planting these bombs, which were specifically designed to harm and horrifically maim as many people as possible. The innocence of youth has been
swept away and replaced with a view of other people – including other young people and children - as no longer human, no longer lives of value. Three people have already died and there may be more. Violence is most easily perpetrated when the victim is no longer seen as equal or valued. Even in war, when violence against others has become legitimised, there is still horror when cruelty and torture is revealed. The most recent pronunciation by the G8 leaders condemning sexual violence within war is a good example of this.
All of this might seem a long way from our daily lives. It is very easy for us to slip into the place of not valuing others though, if we are not careful. Perhaps someone who understands scripture differently from us, or holds political views which are unpalatable. Jesus, of course, understood this human trait. That is why the story of the Good Samaritan was so powerful in its day – it forced the listeners to re-consider how they viewed outsiders, people they did not value and so could dismiss.