Today: Humanity at It’s Best and Worst
Immediately following the horrific bombings at the Boston marathon today, Twitter was abuzz with an all-too-familiar question: “What has happened to our humanity?”. The blasts, in terms of their detonation, location, and unknown (at this point) intent, represented the absolute worst of the human condition. Wanton and merciless violence thrust upon innocents on such a global stage—96 nations were represented in the marathon and it was covered worldwide—is just about as horrific an event as possible. The ensuing fear of random attacks in the most quotidian aspects of life—going to the movies, school, or a race— penetrated throughout the city, the nation and world. Gore was all over the news and the internet: blood and limbs and burning flags. Images that will live in infamy and burn holes into our collective conscience. It’s disgusting, enough to make the most emotionally ironclad of us reduced to tears, hysteria and confusion.
As soon as the blasts went off, humanity’s state of being flew in the opposite direction right alongside the police officers, on-site medics and EMTs and soldiers as they fought through the barricades to help out the 150 or so wounded. That their first instinct was to turn into the blast zone, towards the source of grave terror and bloodshed to risk their own lives for the sake of those whose lives were in jeopardy speaks volumes of their character, resolve and selflessness. The first responders, which also included finishing marathoners who were medically trained professionals and those who just cared, deserve our utmost respect and celebration in saving lives that might have otherwise been lost to us. The bombings were a human tragedy, but the reaction of the first responders showed that the state of humanity is in good hands.
It’s extremely, extremely difficult to not boil over with rage. It’s easy to clamor and wring your hands in the air yelling for the guilty party’s head. Granted, I wouldn’t be opposed to that, nor will I deny having had those feelings earlier. But let’s use this time to instead focus on the people in this story that truly matter. The dead, amongst them an 8 year old boy taken from the world before he or she could ever really explore it, will never be forgotten, and will be in people’s prayers around the world. Those first responders, those selfless, mostly unknown heroes, will be deservedly celebrated forever for their courage. When the perpetrator is finally caught and brought to justice, the law enforcement officers and agents will be similarly celebrated.
But, as all of this unfolded, and humanity’s goodness seemed to be revived, certain people—cough, cough, Alex Jones, Erik Rush, Westboro Baptist Church—sought to use this moment to get on their pulpit and spew their incomprehensible rhetoric to their minions. That they jumped to conclusions—it was a government conspiracy, it was by Muslims and to kill them all, and God delivering the bomb because of gay marriage, respectively—is repulsive and appalling. They should have been joining the chorus of everyone else: here’s how to find friends and family in the race, where to sign up to host displaced runners and spectators, asking for people to donate blood or to simply call their loved ones and say hello and that they love them. Now is the time to wrap your arms around those next to you, because like it or not, we’re all affected by this and we’re all in this together.
This is what we know: this was a terrorist attack, both in definition in practice (whether domestic or foreign is unknown, but it’s still terrorism). We know that the responsible person or group will be apprehended and they will be served a platter of red, white, and blue justice.
Boston will prevail. Morality and humanity will prevail. America will prevail and come out of this tragedy more unified, more aware and safer than ever. Now let’s wipe the tears from our eyes, let the smoke and ash settle, and come out of this better than ever.