Like most Americans, I’ve spent much of the last 24 hours trying to process the Boston Marathon bombings. When there is so much to love about living, it is truly mind-boggling to realize there are other humans in this world – structurally built from the same materials as the rest of us – who not only can’t feel humbled before it, but feel entitled to strip others of that gift.
I’ve felt this way before. After Columbine. After 9/11. After the DC sniper. After Newtown…
What is new to me is how personal this attack feels. Even though the scale is smaller (at least from a fatality standpoint), this event has rocked me in ways that the others haven’t.
Maybe it’s because my company’s headquarters is smack-dab between the two explosions.
Or because I have more than a hundred colleagues (dozens of whom I consider friends) working in that building.
Or because I’ve mindlessly walked past the two bomb sites countless times in the last few years on my way to pick up lunch.
Or because my friends were posting photos of the finish line from the office window that morning, celebrating how lucky they were to have such prime seats.
Or because it’s all too real to imagine my co-workers cowering under their desks, waiting for the third blast.
Or because I’d tried to fly in that morning but the hotel costs were prohibitively high – so I pushed my arrival back a day.
Or maybe it’s because all the news coverage shows my hotel and my office building… landmarks that previously made me think “home away from home,” when I saw them pulling into view.
I really don’t know.
Regardless of why this events hits me square in the gut, there are a few things I am certain of:
Those runners won’t stop running because a coward tried to steal their glory.
We should stop using the term “mastermind” when referring to a terrorist. Masterminds are people who find elegant solutions to difficult problems. Killing innocent people? Pretty much the opposite.
The bravery of the first responders – the people who turned to run into the smoke instead of away from it – only serves to underscore the cowardice of the person (or persons) who set those bombs.
The goodness of humanity far outweighs the few random assholes behind events like this.
Just watch the news or check out your social media channels and you’ll see that last point affirmed over and over again:
The Bostonians who coordinated a directory of private homes where homeless runners could stay.
The outpouring of blood donations at Mass General and the Red Cross.
The stranger who gave his race medal to a first-time marathoner who was unable to finish because of the blast.
The spectators who rose to the occasion and found themselves pushing wheelchairs and tearing away fencing to get to victims.
The locals who – walking home from their evacuated office buildings – took runners home with them and gave them warm clothes and helped them reconnect with their families.
Life is good. People are good.
Those beliefs are fundamental differences that separate us from the people behind attacks like this.
Cling to it. Celebrate it. Embody it.