Monday, April 15, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombing: As Mr. Rogers says, "Look for the helpers"

"So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."...Patton Oswalt

Once again, we find ourselves watching the television news gripped by clutching fear and horror. The Boston Marathon is usually a day filled with triumph and celebration; instead, it has been corrupted into a day full of shock, grief, and terror.

A question I keep hearing over and over is, “Who would do such a thing?” I believe it is safe to say these bombings were perpetrated by someone who was angry, malevolent and cowardly. We can’t allow people like this bomber to take away our freedom and confidence and destroy what is best in our lives by making us afraid. That is how terrorists really do their dirty work. Remember that dreadful events like those seen at the Boston Marathon are thankfully rare. My heart goes out to the victims and their families but we should not dishonor those so grievously affected by letting our lives be ruled by fear.

What has impressed me the most is not the damage and devastation. Instead, I am deeply inspired by all the people who ran towards those who had been harmed, rather than running away from the carnage. As soon as the blasts went off, first responders were helping the injured and clearing debris. Their calm, capable efforts must have been a tremendous comfort to those who were harmed in the blast.

Bad things happen but good people step forward and do what is needed to help. People who didn’t know each other that fateful Monday went from strangers to family in an instant. The death and injury toll would have been so much higher if ordinary people and first responders had not acted with such courage and dedication. The City of Boston had trained for catastrophe and that preparation paid off with an effective well-orchestrated emergency services response.

As we empathize with the day’s pain and grief, we must also take pride in the many acts of heroism and bravery witnessed as the tragedy unfolded. Uninjured marathoners who had just finished running 26.5 miles went straight to area hospitals to donate blood. National guardsman and other emergency services personnel turned towards the devastation without concern for their own safety. On site medical staff originally expecting to assist participants with nothing worse than twisted ankles and dehydration treated those with severe and life-threatening injuries instead. Hospitals mobilized to provide emergency services and continuous hours of intensive life-saving surgery. The FBI and the Boston City Police collaborated at the crime scene. Individuals and local businesses offered photographs and video footage to assist with the investigation. Bystanders consoled one another while the media provided interviews, information and updates which brought us together in our grief.

It turns out that the Boston Marathon of April 15 2013 was still a day of triumph, just not in the way we had all expected. While the loss and pain leaves us with heavy hearts, the day’s many acts of heroism should be cause for quiet celebration. In the long run, goodness and beneficence will always prevail over evil and malevolence. There are so many more of us then there are of them. This truth is a much greater comfort than might be expected. Hold on to that comfort and it will carry us forward with strength and determination. In the face of our shared courage, virtue, and solidarity, the terrorists will never win.