I lived in a box once. It was called Tacoma, where I was born and raised. I loved my box, my original packaging. I didn't have to inquire about the news, what was happening in the world around me, because I was safe(-ish) in the box. This box more accurately could've been called self-preservation or safety; however, it may have taken on its truer form by other names. Ignorance. Fear. Apathy. Detachment.
In August, I moved to Jakarta, and never in my life have I felt so unwrapped, so out of the box. The bomb that went off halfway around the world on Thursday wasn't actually halfway around the world anymore. In fact, it was here, on my doorstep. In my back yard. In Tacoma terms, it’s the distance from about the East Side to Five Mile Drive. From my international school. From my second graders crying, pleading: "Is my mom alive?!" All this while people on Facebook back home were posting anti-Valentine's Day memes, uplifting quotes, excitement for the upcoming Sasquatch festival, and the difference between margarine and butter.
I glance down at my texts and suddenly my eyes are glued on graphic, real images of people in my new home city lying face down, dead in the streets that I walk. Videos unveiled horrors that I had been avoiding in my box. Videos that don't make the news. Videos that shatter the box. Heartbreaking videos.
As a 31-year old woman, the only emotional memory I have that I can relate it to is 9/11. This time, I wasn't a junior at Foss High School anymore. It had never been the right time, the right channel, or the right energy I wanted to invest in. It was the news. It was reality. And now my past-tense thinking has suddenly found no way to excuse it from the present reality.
Something happened. Something snapped me full force into awakening. This is the news. This is where I live. This is where we live. Our world. Though I may never have felt like claiming it — for the damage, for my disagreements, for my inability to change it, the politics — I can't continue to make excuses anymore. These senseless acts of violence and terrorism are actually happening. They aren't something to just wave off with a statement of "Oh, that's so sad" while simultaneously not accepting the truth of the tragedy or allowing it to sink deeply into my thoughts or heart, let alone ask "How can I be of service?"
And the kicker is: I could be you. We have to change. Progress. Evolve. Ascend. Help one another. Love one another. It's time to go to the mattresses against our own selfishness and apathy.
They say a collector's piece is more valuable if it's kept in it's original box. Sure, the box keeps it in pristine condition, safe from the weathering effects of the outside world, a marvel in its own right. But what good is an action figure if it's kept in a cage?
Kristin Peterson grew up on the East Side of Tacoma and formerly taught at Mary Lyon Elementary School for five years. She now resides in Jakarta, Indonesia, in her first year working abroad.