In the past couple of weeks, a horrific tragedy has unfolded in Southwestern Ontario. On May 6, Tim Bosma, a 32 year old husband and father of a toddler, went missing. He had posted an ad online to sell his truck, and never returned after going for a test drive with two potential buyers. A massive search ensued, involving the police, the media, and hundreds if not thousands of volunteers. Posters were pinned onto family homes and business windows.
Communities were shaken, and still are.
On May 14, police confirmed that they had found Bosma’s burned remains on a farm near Waterloo. One suspect is in custody, and the police are searching for others. Some believe that this may have been a thrill kill. This horrific incident has consumed my mind for the past two weeks, and my heart aches despite not knowing the family personally.
Shortly after Bosma went missing, we got an email from a friend who worked for years with street youth. He pointed out that homeless people and at-risk teens go missing all the time – yet it doesn’t even make the papers. But the moment a rich white male goes missing, everyone jumps on board.
I heard similar things from others, including anti-trafficking advocates, who wished that the same attention being drawn to this case would be applied to those who are missing from poor and marginalized communities. Native girls and women go missing all the time, often ending up in trafficking rings or in ditches, yet no one seems to care. In British Columbia, a man named Robert Pickton murdered at least 26 women – many of them prostituted women from Vancouver’s East Side – and even though police received tips about something going on at Pickton’s pig farm in connection to the missing women, a full investigation was not a priority.
My husband Jay had a beautiful response in light of the Bosma case, which reflects our heart in this.
Regardless of the fact that one person’s pain is prioritized over another’s, let us not become embittered. Let us not permit it to spoil our loving spirit.
Let us mourn for this man and his family, and tell his story. And let us also mourn for those who society considers to be the “least of these,” those who have been forgotten and marginalized.
We must let this be an opportunity to expose our own racisms and prejudices, and a chance to learn or re-learn what true, unbiased compassion looks like.
Pain is real, whether one is rich or poor, white or black, young or old, celebrated or marginalized. Refusing to take part in one person’s pain will not alleviate that of another.
This crime has wounded many of us because it is closer to home than ever before. Perhaps this is an indication that many of us are living in a bubble of safety and complacency, where we can avoid the painful realities of those who have not had the same opportunities.
The memorial service for Tim Bosma is taking place on Wednesday, May 22. This is a time for us to mourn with those who mourn, and my hope is that this would be a starting point for extending this love to those in our communities that have been forgotten.
We can do both. We can enter into mourning with the Bosma family, and we can enter into the pain of those on the margins. Our hearts have a capacity to love greatly.
My sincere condolences go to Tim’s family during this difficult week, as well as to those whose loved ones have been forgotten.