Some Initial Thoughts on Boston

Both my sister and I married people from Boston, so we have a lot of family and friends in the area. But even if you have no direct connections to Boston, I’m sure that you, like me–like many of us–spent much of yesterday watching the news, refreshing Twitter and various other web pages, and/or listening to the Police, Fire, and EMS feed.

And, like many of you, I spent much of that time trying to separate rumor from fact. I won’t speculate on who is responsible or what their goals were. I’ll let the EOD folks, the FBI, and the Boston PD work on that. Frankly, I’d much rather focus on other aspects of the attacks.

You see, I’ve run four marathons. They are wonderful events. Citizens of a town come out to cheer on strangers. Volunteers man water tables. Unofficial volunteers hand out oranges, candy, and other goodies. Runners push themselves beyond what they think possible. Many runners devote their time, energy, and pain to raise money for charities. That’s the beauty of marathons: so many people contributing to something bigger than themselves.

And that goes double for Boston. The Boston Marathon takes place on Patriots Day. Schools are closed, and many people get the day off from work. They go see the Red Sox play, and when the game ends, they walk down to the finish line. This is a big day for Boston–for all the right reasons. To mar it with something so terrible and so tragic, well, it cuts deep among Bostonians. And remember, half the world’s countries were represented in the race. This was both a local and international event.

And when the explosions occurred, runners–tired, pained, exhausted runners–reacted. Doctors and nurses pushed exhaustion aside and helped those who were injured. Runners turned the corner and ran an additional 1.5 miles to Mass General Hospital to donate blood. In fact, so many donors showed up, the Red Cross was at max capacity by the end of the day. Police, Fire, EMS, and National Guard personnel sprung into action to help those in need, keep bystanders safe, and to search for additional dangers.

And that’s what I want to focus on: heroes outnumbered villains yesterday. Yes, something terrible happened, but in spite of that, many wonderful, beautiful, hopeful things happened as well. Yesterday we saw a few bad people–the worst sort of individual–but we also saw the best of humanity. Yes, there is evil in the world. But it is far outweighed by goodness. Don’t forget that.

So take some time to look into your town’s next 5K or 10K. Think about running. If you don’t run, think about volunteering. Or think about cheering on the runners. Don’t be overwhelmed by fear. Focus on the connectedness, the giving, the community. Stand up to the people who would try to scare us. Show them that you’re stronger than that.