Ryan Hall and his wife Erandhi with their family at Christmas.

When tragedy hits close to home

In our interconnected world nearly anything can have a personal connection. But the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka hit closer to home than I am used to.
Ryan Hall and his wife Erandhi with their family at Christmas.

When I first heard about the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday morning, my thoughts drifted first to my wife, Erandhi, and her family who are Catholics from Sri Lanka. We live in such an interconnected world now that nearly anything that happens around the world can have some personal connection to us, but this one was much closer to home than my wife and I were used to.

When I told Erandhi that morning about the bombings she didn’t believe me, but once the shock wore off, she started reaching out to her parents and friends around the world and those still in Sri Lanka to check on them. Thankfully, everyone was safe. We later learned that her aunt had planned to go to one of the churches that had been attacked but decided instead to go to one closer to home, a decision that likely saved her life. 

Throughout the day Erandhi received messages of love and support from our family and friends who just wanted to say they were thinking of her and hoping that all was well. It meant a lot to her that so many people remembered her and the impact something like this could have on someone. 

At Mass that morning, prayers were said for those killed in Sri Lanka reminding me that even in a small community here in Oregon, thousands of miles away from the violence, our hearts were connected to those who were killed and those suffering from losing a loved one.  Erandhi and I said a personal prayer as well for those affected by this tragedy, but also for those who committed this terrible violence.

Having spent many years working for a culture of nonviolence with Pace e Bene, senseless acts of cruelty like this remind me how much an act of violence can reverberate throughout the world. Violence shocks the senses and instills fear within one’s body and society as a whole. Violence in itself is an act of fear and cowardice, but we know that we have options besides violence. Nonviolence is an act of love and courage. It too can reverberate around the world and beyond, we’re just not always aware of it. Single acts of kindness, compassion, generosity and love can travel deep in the heart, a place sometimes harder to reach than anywhere else on our planet. 

Going forward, I pray that the people of Sri Lanka and all those affected by violence can find their own inner nonviolence to continue to build a society that they’ve been working on for 10 years after their civil war. Having spent time there, I know what a beautiful country and what beautiful people they all are. They will rise from this and maybe teach all of us the deeper message of that Easter Sunday, new life and hope will have the final say.

This story was produced by Campaign Nonviolence

Campaign Nonviolence, a project of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, is working for a new culture of nonviolence by connecting the issues to end war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction. We organize The Nonviolent Cities Project and the annual Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions.

Waging Nonviolence partners with other organizations and publishes their work.