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Tom Faix: What lessons can Boston Marathon tragedy teach us?

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“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius, 500 BC

The brothers Tsarnaev may have earned a place in the history of infamous lives and deeds. The tragedy to global humanity is that they had not yet come to know the wisdom of falling and getting up to finish up the race of life. Killing others as the calling of God is not found in any global Sacred texts.

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We are a nation built on the lives of generations of risk taking immigrants. The American Dream at core nourishes opportunity to receive and give back the providential gifts of liberty, democracy, equality, justice, tolerance, humility and faith. Our own revolution is an ongoing, ever-evolving process to refine our values and expand inclusiveness to all races, creeds, gender, ethnicity, religions.

The world beyond our shores also affirms and holds us to our own “Marathon race” for global peace and justice. That the brothers, and likely more, of “our own” post 9/11 asylum granted citizen immigrants would kill in God’s name leaves us sick at heart, fallen.

Since World War I and II we have tried, succeeded and also fallen down in, our own race as a nation to reach out, show care and compassion to the larger world. Yet it has been hard for such a generous nation to absorb vast and deepattacks on the Twin Towers of Sept. 11, 2001. “Why do they hate us? What are we doing wrong?” So what can we do in the face of the Boston Marathon tragedy? How can we get back up on our injured or missing limbs and get back in the race again?

Instead of withdrawal into our own coast to coast and north-south borders with federal locks on our security, we can rather expand our natural base of all our citizens to be on the ready at all times similar to our first responders. Our general citizenry can readily reinforce existing networks of local, state, and federal level professionals as we weave tighter the fabric and bonds of our national heritage of “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” has been and will continue to grow deeper and broader.

No threats of any outside or inside power as jihadist terrorists can break that tie that binds our nationhood. The Boston Marathon is our new “wake up” reminder of work ahead of us. New fears can be turned into new opportunities for a better world here and beyond.

What are some of these new opportunities? First, we need to elect public officials on all levels of government who welcome debate and the need for give/take compromise. This calls for the radical progressive center-right and left voters who represent 60 percent of the electorate to become involved. Narrow extremists can run for office and be elected but not able to use their power base to be controlled by political or corporate lobbyists. Our “grid lock” now sets a revulsive example for the host of new democracies who look to us for guidance and inspiration.

2) On all levels, have exchanges with government authorities from other nations. We learn about their home base problems and needs and they learn about American culture. Also have more exchange levels from public and private schools, community and technical colleges, liberal arts colleges and universities. Add to this, non-government organizations and arts groups. The more interfaces we have with other nations will better inform others about the “real” America and defer or kill any thoughts extremists can destroy or take over other nations. We do much now, but still, too little. In particular we need to make exchanges with the many new Arab spring developing nations. We also need to promote travel from and to other nations. We need to greatly expand the teaching of non-western languages, in particular, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, Chinese among others.

3) Data from scholars since the Boston Marathon tragedy points out that only a small percent of terrorists who see themselves as Muslim have any real knowledge of the Koran. The Koran holy book does not suggest killing of “infidels” nor a status of subjection for women. We need to spread more knowledge about other world religions and this can be done in our public and private schools, our many denominations and churches, as well as other civic groups and university courses, including online. We also need more foreign made films, videos, documentaries from non-western cultures.

4) There is a growing need for service organizations that can be promoted in non-western nations. There are already many, such as the Rotary Club International, The World Council of Churches, The United Nations Refugee service, the Junior Chamber of Commerce International, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls clubs and 4-H, all of which have universal community values.

5) We complain and groan about the great influx of non-western refugees along with large numbers from Latin America, including Mexico but we do little to make them feel welcome. Some are on work green cards, some as legal residents, some as now naturalized citizens. We see them as “them."

We can ask ourselves, how was the Tsarnaev family made to feel welcome as asylum immigrants from Chechnya? Are there other disaffected immigrants we are not aware of?

In our local Becker County area, who do we know personally as an immigrant? Do we harbor reaching out feelings, or do we see “them” as a problem at taxpayer expense and avoid contact?

Do we reflect the best of a nation that is blessed? Oh, perish the thought! But do we tend also to see area Native-Americans, and the few African-Americans and Latinos in our midst as “Them?”

“We grow great by dreams” — President Woodrow Wilson

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