Thoughts on Boston, Terror, and the Bigger Picture

An entry by my girlfriend, Anneliese Waddington, expressing her view on this week’s events:Image

This week has left me uneasy. I have felt worry, and I have felt anger. These feelings surface each time we experience a national tragedy at the hands of someone who intended to take innocent lives, and leave behind emotional and physical scars. Our nation as a whole has many scars. A flash of fear, of anxiety, when you board an airplane, or when you sit in a classroom, or when you settle into a seat at the movie theater, or when you pray in your place of worship. And now, when you gather as a community. That’s what hits hard about Monday’s bombings. This was not a routine flight, a routine day at school, a routine trip to the movies. This instills a fear of gathering together as a community in celebration. A day where we celebrate accomplishment, push ourselves to achieve something great, or simply cheer on thousands of people we will never meet, but who for that one day become our friends, our family. That is where my anger comes from. That the underlying intention was to destroy the safety of a community, to shatter at the most basic level, togetherness. In the aftermath, I have seen and witnessed an overwhelming sense of community, of the good people. And this gives me some peace. Our nation’s tragedies have shown us that there is more good than bad, and that no one is ever alone in their darkest moments. I am grateful to be a part of a country where we have this certainty. But then I think about nations where Monday’s horror is a daily occurrence. Where the victims become a number, not a face. Not a name to be remembered by 300,000,000 people, not a life to be celebrated. Simply a casualty. And as I see the enormous outpouring of support for those victims of Boston, of Newtown, of Aurora, I can’t help but think of humanity as a community. What makes the people of Boston any different from the people of Iraq, of Sudan, of Venezuela? A headline from the Huffington Post on Monday, April 15th, reads “Iraq Attacks Kill Dozens, Wound Over 100 In Several Cities.” And the headline goes by unnoticed by most, as we have become indifferent to headlines like these, because we see them daily, and we have adapted the ability to detach from it.  And when I think about it, that is a problem. I have no answer. I don’t know where the responsibility lies, where being part of a nation ends and being part of humanity begins. Millions of Americans spring to action when it’s one of our own, on our own soil. But I think it’s important, in times like these, to step back and take a look around. We are all human. We are all someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend. For me, the Boston tragedy hits close to home, because I have been there, and been in those shoes. It could’ve been me. But the feelings surrounding it are no different than how I felt when I heard about the Aurora shootings, September 11th, the Newtown shootings. Because what I felt was for a fellow human being. For someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend.

To see so many people come together, to hear the stories of heroism, help to restore my faith in humanity after a tragedy. But I find myself wondering about the potential in this, why it’s brought out only when we are faced with a tragedy that touches something personal in us. Think of what we, as a nation, as humans, could accomplish if we applied this multitude of support for all of our fellow humans facing terror at the hands of others. It is easy to block it out, to ignore it, to distance yourself from what is happening beyond our borders. But is it right? Or does the burden simply become too great? I choose to have faith in the potential that someday the good can be spread equally. That our sense of community is defined by coming together not just as Bostonians, not just as Americans, but as humans. Humans who take pride in humanity. #WeAreAllHuman

We Are All Boston Patriots

Image

Like many other displaced Bostonians, the past 4 years Marathon Monday/Patriot’s Day has been a day I missed my hometown the most. Memories starting from when I was a little kid, driving to Wellesley or Newton to catch a glimpse of the city-wide event, cheer runners on as they trek toward their 26.2 mile goal, waiting in the heart of the city, to my college years, gathering on Beacon Street, cheering on the runners, some of whom may be friends or fellow college students, but in a much more mature, outdoor party-like atmosphere. I remember going to the 11 AM Red Sox game, peeking toward Kenmore Square as the game drew to a close, seeing the runners on their last few miles toward the end. Then going into Kenmore to cheer them on and give high fives to the tens of thousands of brave, strong-willed and no doubt tired people with numbers on their bibs.

That’s what Patriot’s Day in Boston is supposed to be about. That’s what it always has been about. And in the wake of yesterday’s horrible tragedies at that same finish line that for over 4 hours after the start of the race this year, and every previous year of the Boston Marathon, meant the final goal of those runners from all across the globe, I have been having a lot of trouble collecting my thoughts. Since moving to Los Angeles, Marathon Monday is a day every year as it approaches, I wish my schedule allowed for a quick extended weekend trip home, just to enjoy in the culture and festivities of the day with my fellow Bostonians, as if I never left. This year, despite the tragedy, I feel no different. I wish I could be there in Boston this week to support those affected by this tragedy by donating blood at the hospital, going to candlelight vigils and walking from BC to the Finish Line. I wish I could go to tomorrow night’s Bruins game and show the country and the world our unified Resilience, as President Obama so rightly characterized our city. I find myself struggling to focus at work, feeling so disconnected to the city I still consider my home. Hours staring at news coverage yesterday, and hours reading stories of the aftermath, hearing our sports radio hosts drop all coverage of sports and discuss how close this city is. Hearing personal accounts, including that of The Sports Hub/Toucher and Rich’s Rich Shertenlieb, who’s voice trembled on the radio as he explained how he doesn’t know what to do with the anger he feels after having to rush his family, including two young boys and a wife undergoing chemotherapy, out of his apartment building right where the second bomb exploded.

In a city where all you hear about is Sports, especially living in a city that holds one of it’s teams biggest basketball rivals, it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t from Boston, WHY Boston is such an incredible place. You hear people chide and berate the city and it’s sports fans for being ourselves – loud, obnoxious and passionate. And that’s all people know about Bostonians. But a tragic event like yesterday’s explosions really shows how tight-knit a community Boston is. Strange for such a large metropolitan area to seem so small and close, but living in the Boston area throughout all my pre-college life, and living in the city for 3+ years during college, I really felt the sense of community. I saw it most prominently after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 – a community of people coming together for a joyous occasion, a shared elation sparked from 86 years of disappointment and agony. You could see it in every subsequent Championship Parade during our decade of winning. A city where you may not always smile or high five the stranger you walk by, suddenly is all smiles and high-fives when a unifying event brings us together. Yesterday’s attacks wasn’t about sports, but it was centered around one of the Nation’s and certainly the city’s biggest sporting events. Sports brings people together – to cheer for a common team, or to cheer on runners going after a common goal like crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles on city streets. And in a city where sports bears such a strong importance, it is no surprise to me how strong and resilient our citizens can be in the face of adversity.

Patriot’s Day is supposed to celebrate everything that Boston is about, and by extension, America is about (for those uninitiated, Patriot’s Day is celebrating those who fought in the first battle of the Revolutionary War, in Lexington and Concord.) We wouldn’t call ourselves Americans if that first battle never happened. And that’s what’s so hard to grasp about this attack – they didn’t just attack the Boston Marathon, they didn’t just attack The City of Boston. They attacked the IDEA of celebration Freedom and Patriotism. It makes me sad to realize that going forward, of course we will continue to host the Marathon every year, on Patriot’s Day. But now, there will be this tragedy looming over everyone’s associations of this day, a day that is supposed to be the best day the city has to offer. Sure, future Marathon’s will still have a sense of celebration and accomplishment, but the institution of Patriot’s Day will now forever be scarred. And I hate that such a happy and joyous event has to be associated with such sadness.

Boston, you’re my home.

*I would like to send out my condolences and thoughts to the 3 families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy; The Cambell Family, The Richard Family, and the Lu family in China.