As the nation continues to pick up the pieces from the Boston Marathon bombing, many of us find ourselves preoccupied with the numerous unknowns surrounding the incident. Authorities are still investigating the details of who, how and why. Families and individuals are reeling from the loss of life and the extensive injuries sustained. Of those who have have survived, many have lost limbs, their lives forever changed.
Despite our lack of information, one thing is clear. The Boston Marathon bombing was a tragic act of cowardice.
That cowardice becomes even more pronounced when held in contrast to the event that it targeted.
More Than a Competition
A marathon is not “merely” a competitive racing event. It is a celebration of the human spirit. It’s testament to man’s dedication, drive and willpower. His ability to face insurmountable odds and overcome them. And the Boston Marathon in particular sets itself apart as a paragon of the human spirit.
From the elite runners who are pushing the boundaries of athletic performance, to those dedicated amateur runners who have no greater external motivation – no prize purse; no accolades; no press. Just the internal motivation to become better than they were yesterday, to face their own internal struggles, and to put it all on the line for themselves alone. Such is the beauty of mankind.
It was during this celebration of humanity that a coward chose to cause destruction rather than inspire hope.
Finding Hope in Humanity
People are angry. People are upset. Some people are even fearful. And they have every right to be. Yet something remarkable happened in immediate response to this terrifying act.
The very same principles and values that pave the road to the Boston Marathon were put on display, both individually and collectively, and we proved that the positive power of humanity far outweighs the negative.
- Runners already exhausted from racing a marathon sprung into action by continuing their run all the way to the hospital to donate blood.
- First responders included not only EMS personnel and police, but an abundance of civilians, all bravely rushing toward the scene rather than away to help the injured to safety.
- Hospitals leapt into action while hotels & restaurants opened their doors to assist in alleviating the suffering, help locate loved ones and provide safe haven.
Boston, its people, and guests from around the world joined forces immediately and without the need for debate to help relieve suffering – selflessly and honorably. The news reports paint a vivid picture of profound cooperation toward a greater cause. This must not go unnoticed.
The Choice We Face
A terrible act was perpetrated, and in its wake we have a choice. We can close down; act from a place of fear; declare “war”; increase “security” and otherwise think ill of our fellow man. Or we can use it as a reminder that life should be celebrated. That the good far outweighs the bad. That in the face of tragedy, we can persevere and actually become better.
The message is much greater than the immediacy of the marathon bombing. The questions reach beyond a simple act of terror. When faced with a choice, do you embrace change optimistically, or do you push it away out of fear?
Every opportunity carries with it the possibility of a negative outcome. Events can be bombed. Technologies can be misused and misappropriated. There will always be damaged and disturbed people among us. But it is our job to enthusiastically embrace opportunity, doing our best to direct it toward good and allowing ourselves to grow in the process. Fearful pessimism is a disservice to mankind.
Destruction is the easy way out. Harm and terror is the easy way out. Death is the easy way out.
My heart aches when I hear the stories. The 8 year-old who lost his life. The competitive dancer who may lose her leg. Over 150 people severely injured. These people too have a choice, and I strongly believe that they as well will choose optimism over pessimism, and it is our job to support them on their road to recovery and help them to reclaim a vibrant life.
So what can we do to help in the aftermath? We can offer our support directly to those who are suffering. We can donate to the many charities* that have and will spring up to assist in picking up the pieces. We can volunteer. We can thank those who helped. We can organize a run.
And what’s the number one thing that you can do to combat these disturbing acts in the future? Use it as an opportunity for growth and seek to become the best person that you can be. It does honor to the event and what it represents, to those victims of the incident, and importantly, it helps to solidify our foundation as a compassionate, brave, selfless and optimistic society.
The Boston Marathon represents an ideal. The brave response to terror a reminder of our fundamental good. Let’s honor the victims by choosing hopeful optimism in all things over destructive pessimism.
My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families, and my thanks to everyone who responded and continue to respond.
Remember the tragedy. Embrace the opportunity. Be bold and dare to do the extraordinary.
What do you think of the response to the bombing? Let me know below in the comments.