Trending this week is #PrayforBoston. Watching the videos of the double explosions that killed three and maimed more than a hundred more civilians leaves me, and most of our country, in shock, anger, and strangely, turning to prayer.
I was born in the North End. My dad, “Sludge Judge” Paul Garrity from Southie ran the Boston Marathon every year that I can remember…and came in dead last every time. But the marathon was never about winning, even though we were friends with the legend Bill Rodgers, who won the marathon more times than anyone else, and his brother Charlie who ran a sneaker store in Faneuil Hall near my dad’s law office, the marathon was about facing down the things that scare us, even if the task of facing our fears nearly kills us. Every marathon is a “survival” in a sense, a symbol that we can endure. That is why it hits so hard to have a celebration like this be replaced with mourning, pain and fear.
Listening to WBUR on Monday after the tragic explosions, I heard Tom Ashcroft’s guest explain the message that the perpetrators were sending with this crime: “[Terrorism] is psychological warfare, the message is: don’t feel safe.” This is a message that becomes louder with every tragedy.
Tragic scenes like this one creep into the corners of our lives. “Fear of fear” as T.S. Eliot describes it leaves us empty. I no longer enjoy going to the movies after the Batman killing spree. For years getting in a plane after 9/11 always held the potential of becoming another victim. Sending your children to a tiny school in small town America now holds the potential for them to be gunned down by a lunatic.
Watching innocents rushed into ER for amputations, seeing the faces of the dead, two women and an 8 year old boy shared all over the web, the tragedy and the unfairness makes us angry, but the deeper darker truth that the Boston Bombing holds is that we are not safe.
As we #PrayforBoston, perhaps the point that we all need to walk away with is that while physical safety is never assured, there are other things that we can strive for in a situation like hope, love, and giving all you have for another. Rudy Giuliani talks about holding the NY marathons right after 9/11: “You can’t stop life as we know it, otherwise they win.” As Carrie Watkins said on WBUR, “This will not define us or defeat us.” Even as our hearts are broken for the people who lost their lives or limbs, our hearts fill with pride to see the sacrifice that others are willing to make. put themselves in harm’s way and defy fear for the sake of another person.
let’s not let fear win.
Whether we are called in an emergency to jump into danger to save another, or simply defying fear in our daily lives, let’s not let terror win. “Be yourself. They can never take that away from you.” (Coleman from Trading Places) “Being” ourselves means not letting the things we love be poisoned by tragedy. And how to do that? Even the twitter community knows that that we can’t do it on our own strength, and I think the first impulse in tragedy can extend to all our lives…pray.