A World of Fear

In the past few hours, Jakarta has been rocked by violent attacks.

Our natural and immediate urge at a time like this is to seek reassurance: was anyone I know and love affected?  For at least the eleven students and three teachers traveling in Indonesia with Explorations Academy, the answer is that our loved ones are safe.  They are settling in for the night in the city of Solo, 250 miles away from where the attacks took place.  The phone call I made to check on our group, in fact, provided them with their first news of the situation in Jakarta.

So our loved ones are in fact safe.  But they, like all of us, are affected by this kind of wanton violence.  It’s called terrorism for a reason, since the widespread distribution of fear — for those who feel wronged by the world — calls attention to their cause. It is a sick and destructive strategy, but nonetheless extremely visible.

After reassurance, we feel the urge to find information.  This column cannot provide up-to-the-moment journalism, and we know that further details will surely follow, and perhaps in some ways contradict, the information currently available.  But it appears that two attacks took place, one at a police station and one at a Starbucks store.  Several people and most of the attackers died, with numerous additional people injured.  Media speculation is that the attackers sought to target foreigners and police, since those groups make for bigger headlines.  For now, the scope of the violence is limited.

After information, we seek to find meaning.  Why?  Why must people pursue violent paths in pursuit of their goals?  This is a far harder question to answer than the first two, and again reaches beyond the scope of what can reasonably be addressed in this venue.  But it is hard not to acknowledge that when inequity and injustice are so prevalent, when political and religious fervor are the norm, and when the tools for killing and maiming others are ubiquitous, terrorism becomes a factor.  Whether this makes sense or not, it doesn’t really answer the question of why, and we are still left hungry for answers.

And finally, the question arises of what can we do.  As terrifying as it is to hear of a bombing in Jakarta, a world away from us but just a few hundred miles from our loved ones, for this particular moment we are ‘safe.’  But when safety is under fire — in Jakarta, in Istanbul, in Paris and in San Bernardino — we must seek to envision and then implement a world in which understanding and compassion prevail.

Fortunately, understanding and compassion already do prevail in most places.  Our students, oblivious of events in Jakarta, had a great day today, exploring Solo, visiting markets, learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia, getting to know orphans in the orphanage, and eating delicious meals.  They report warmth and welcome everywhere, and as a result of this kind of connection, backed up by thoughtful academic study, are growing as citizen diplomats to become part of a positive and hopeful world.


Getting to know children at the orphanage, and learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia!

Explore posts in the same categories: Indonesia, Perspectives, Uncategorized

3 Comments on “A World of Fear”

  1. Barbara Plaskett Says:

    Thank you Daniel

  2. Judy Sterry Says:

    Thanks Daniel, I’m sure that the parents were very alarmed when they heard of the attacks. Well written, thoughtful, soothing, realistic.

    My thoughts were that the group wasn’t visiting tourist places, stayed in out of the way places, etc and is pretty low profile so the likelihood of being in the wrong place was very small.

    Sorry for the added weight to all your concerns these days.

    Love, Judy >

  3. Bruce Baker Says:

    Daniel, Zachary’s grandpa here. Well written. As Judy stated the added weight for a man in your postion has given you more stress for the responsibilties you have taken on. Thanks for the venue. This also lets folks get a perpective of the World we live in.

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