On Tuesday October 31, an attack took place in Lower Manhattan directly under the bridge entrance of my high school. My friend texted me the news after I came out of my last class of the day, twenty minutes after the attack took place.
The initial terror seeing the violence unfold in a place that I consider home was too much for me; I couldn’t function for the next few days. Seeing the streets I’ve walked back and forth, the bridge I crossed every day to go to school, and the mangled truck swarming with ambulances and police on the news coverage shocked me. They simply didn’t go together. This was a place I cherished, where I made some of my most loved and most meaningful memories. How could it be the site where hatred and violence occurred?
The thing is, we hear about incidents like these in the news too often. Every time, we experience a grave sadness and uneasy stir at the bottom of our hearts. We give our condolences and heighten security. But (perhaps I’m generalizing too much and being too self-centered), nothing can compare to the feeling of realizing that it’s your community that’s being attacked. That’s when you realize that you aren’t safe and that the invisible bubble protecting you has never really been there. We don’t think it’ll happen to us until it does. We bury ourselves in anonymity when we don’t want to be seen and expect the power in numbers to shield us from all harm. I used to think that the world was so large and I was so miniscule in comparison that my world, consisting of the people who matter to me, wasn’t visible to the rest of the world. I thought that they would be safe because this irrelevancy would protect me from any harm done to them. I realize how wrong that that thinking is – the world doesn’t discriminate between important and unimportant.
I’ll try to bring this to a positive conclusion – it is because the world doesn’t discriminate that we, even though we are insignificant in its eyes, have the power to impact it. It’s like Newton’s third law – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the events in the world can have such a significant effect on our individual lives, then we (by physics) are allowed to exert a force opposite and equal in magnitude against it. And if we all apply our own forces against the negativity and hatred in our world, maybe one day the net force is will be great enough to truly change it.