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Falon Mihalic Headshot

As a SWAT Team Crawls My Street, How Do I Practice Peace?

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I woke up last night to explosions and rounds of gunfire. I looked out the window of our second floor apartment to see groups of police officers carrying machine guns and running down our street towards the noise. I thought I was dreaming. My husband and I continued to watch out the windows after hoards of police cars screeched away and officers began combing through every yard on our block. They had ultra bright flashlights that they were shining into every nook. Obviously, they were looking for someone. My husband and I both instinctively went to our phones and started following everything on Twitter. I captured video footage of the police surrounding a man who was a potential suspect. I stared, shocked, as more police surrounded a house on my block. It was one of the first false suspects to be taken into custody over the past 14 hours. We fell back asleep around 5:00 a.m. when the "pre-dawn" birds started signing. We woke up around 7:00 a.m. with SWAT officers circling our apartment. Teams of officers with machine guns brought search dogs through our yard.

They searched our basement, looked under every car, and in every trash can. A large, black, armored police tank slowly creeped down our street, like I have only seen in movies. The armored tank was escorted by a team of 15 or so police officers carrying machine guns. They were working their way through each house, searching every apartment. They came to ours -- knocked on our front door and announced, "Boston Police." I opened the door to two officers. They asked if I had seen anything suspicious, heard anything around our building and so on. They asked if they could come in and I said yes. They looked around our apartment, told us to stay inside and lock the doors, and then left. I told them, "thank you so much," but it didn't seem to be enough of an expression of my real gratitude. And, it left me with this question: what would be "enough" to start turning our world into a more peaceful place? What would it take to actively promote peace every single day?

I want to cultivate compassion among my neighbors during this time of fear, but how? I saw pictures online of police with guns marching on the sidewalk next to the community garden where I'm growing vegetables. It made my efforts feel very small. Tiny kale and lettuce seedlings are popping up in my raised bed and a black hawk helicopter circles overhead. How do we end violence? How do we actively create peace? How do we outshine the darkness? What will it take? My mom taught me that peace begins from within and that only when we take care of ourselves can we take care of others. I am going to work on practicing this so that I can help to create stillness in myself and others during times of chaos. It may be the only way to move forward. It may be the only way to erase the images of guns and SWAT teams and war sounds from my mind. I am overwhelmed at the thought that this is an everyday reality for many people all over the world and that, until today, I have been extremely privileged to be sheltered from such violence.

HuffPost Readers: Were you or someone you know in the area affected by the bombings or the manhunt? If you have any information to share, or want to tell us what you experienced, email openreporting@huffingtonpost.com. Include a phone number if you're willing to be interviewed. Let us know if you wish to remain anonymous.

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