Nearly midnight in South African when I had finished my work and lounged around on Twitter looking for something interesting. Watched in total horror as the story of the bombings in Boston unfolded.
The funny thing about living in a country struggling with acts of extreme violence, is that it desensitizes you to a degree. It is not that I am not shocked anymore by hearing about acts of extreme violence. I am. It makes me sick to my stomach to hear of babies being raped, old people being tortured for a tiny bit of money and ATMs being bombed.I lived through the worst years of apartheid when we were trained at school to watch out for any bag or package left unattended, as it could be a bomb. And it often was. I have a friend who walks around with a scarred body after dying and being revived following a huge bomb explosion at a family restaurant where she worked as a waitress.
So it is not something that you can ever get used to. But you accept the reality of it and you deal with the way it makes you feel as best you can. And gradually you find yourself saying “Ag shame” and moving on after the merest moment of sympathy. And you are thankful because you know that you have actually had it good. That others felt it much closer to the skin.
It is not something that I wish anyone to have.
It is innocence lost.
And that is why I feel infinite sadness when it happens where people feel secure and where one of the stated goals of a whole nation can be the persuit of happiness. I have always thought it incredible, as our goal is simply to get past the injustices and the horrors of our past and the lingering angers of our present.
I felt it in 2001 and I felt it this week.