This was posted by our team leaders in Beirut in our team’s blog, Pray4Mena.org and we thought many of you would be interested in reading it.
Bombings in Beirut – Some Perspective
Every time there’s a new series of bombings, many people ask how we can continue to work in an environment like Beirut. They want to know how to interpret what they see on the news. But one question I have for them is whether they are really much safer where they live.
The two most recent bombings, like many in the past, are a reflection of the sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, which is manifesting itself openly in the Syrian war, and boiling up from time to time in Lebanon.
This will likely continue to happen, and it’s possible that it could escalate, although we are praying that it doesn’t. So far it’s not really more than the weird “usual” of Lebanon, which tends to have assassinations and/or bombings every few months.
But for perspective, some good frames of reference are the murder rates and violent crime rates in the US. There were 500 murders in Chicago in 2012. All the bombing victims in Beirut each year are a lot less than that, even though the Beirut metro area has a comparable population to that of Chicago, which has 2.7 million residents. Even the US department of state admits that violent crime is rare in Lebanon, so I doubt that annual murders plus bombings in Beirut would even approach half of the murders in Chicago.
But we should also remember that fatalities from car accidents are far far more likely than deaths from bombings in Beirut, or even murders in Detroit, where 1 in 1832 residents were murdered in 2012. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in most places, with the exception of some, like Ohio, where in 2007 drug overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes for the first time on record , or Vermont who loses more people to heroin than cars or guns, as I learned yesterday from a speech by Vermont’s governor, who devoted his entire state of the state address to heroin.
This illustrates the fact that, no matter where you live, life is dangerous. I don’t mean for this to trivialize the political and ethnic violence in the MENA region, and we certainly need to continue to pray for peace in MENA. However, having a realistic view of the world requires an acknowledgement of the frailty of human life everywhere, which should lead us to a deeper trust in God, who sustains us through every moment.
Pray for Chicago, for Ohio, and for Vermont, and don’t forget to pray for MENA!