Tuesday, April 16, 2013
When Tragedy Strikes
I have to admit that as a member of the MTV Generation I’ve become pretty desensitized to violence. I was in Elementary School for the Columbine Massacre and High School for 9/11. I played violent video games and always saw the latest slasher film. We’ve been at war for my entire adolescent and adult life, and since that war has asked so very little of me…Sometimes I forget about it entirely. So, when something terrible happens, when something precious is attacked or defiled, it can be difficult for me to look it square in the face. It can be tough for me to bring it into my reality and confront it for all of its repulsiveness.
This morning when I woke up and turned on the morning news, they were showing images of survivors and heroes. People were running into flames and debris to save strangers – not knowing if there would be another explosion . It wasn’t just police and firemen running into the danger zone (though they certainly deserve credit), it was regular people – runners, their families, spectators. An immigrant who lost his son in Iraq helped provide treatment to the wounded. A Superbowl champion carried a lady to safety. Marathon runners tore off their shirts and used them as tourniquets …
As the morning show continued reporting, they explained the American Red Cross did not need any blood donations. So many wished to donate blood that the organization set up a wait list where people could make appointments to donate in the future. Others offered a warm place to stay to those who were stranded, or a lift should anyone require transportation. Airlines waved change fees. Restaurants provided free meals. Some businesses just offered a nice place to sit, use the wifi and take a moment.
It wasn’t the gory, awful, ugly images of blood and destruction that left me stunned in place. It was the overwhelming kindness, selflessness and bravery that shook me to my core...
Later on, the news reported on an inspiring Facebook message posted by comedian Patton Oswalt. It has gone viral and, I imagine, is providing comfort to many right now. He ended his message with this –
“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden- variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.’"
In the days that come, we will learn more about the identity of the bomber. We’ll hear about the heinousness of the injuries and the innocence of the victims. I suspect the next couple of days will be extremely difficult. And, no video game or television show can desensitize us to such an extent that we won’t remember this as one of 2013’s ugliest ordeals. It’s going to be hard be in a crowded place and not wonder…Many of us will think twice when we step on a subway platform or into a sporting event….But we can take some comfort in the knowledge that, when faced with crushing, unthinkable tragedy, we have shown again and again that the good to outnumber the evil – that regular people can be heroes when necessity demands it – that those traits that divide us are not nearly as powerful as those that unite us. We are hurt now. And we likely will be for some time. But, we’ll recover, and we’ll continue saving and protecting one another…because the good outnumber the evil.