There are so many different things that I could say about the tragedy yesterday in Boston. I could comment about how odd it is that we (the social media and mainstream media we) react viscerally to a single bombing on American soil, but seem relatively blase about the constant atrocities across Afghanistan.
I could bemoan the pictures that flew around social media and the reactions of people reacting to people trying to shield their children. (I don’t know about shielding my children. I wanted to shield me. I sat, stunned, scrolling through tweets, avoiding links, desperately not bringing up pictures. I turned the news off.)
I could wonder whether social media helps us to actually deal with these tragedies or whether it somehow diminishes the events, makes the real lives of people on the other side of the world seem like some global soap opera.
But actually, what I’d like to talk about is the beauty that comes out of tragedy. That the tweet that made me cry wasn’t about children dying or amputations or fires in libraries, it was about the runners who kept on running, who crossed the finish line and ran on to the hospital to give blood. I’m crying now writing this – the image that I have in my mind is of people dazed and confused and doing the only thing they could to make any sense of the events around them. They tried to help.
Everyone running a marathon has a story. Very few people wake up in the morning and think, I know, I’ll just jog 26 miles before lunch. It’s an incredible achievement, it takes months of training, massive effort, is an emotional investment. And to get to the end, and have the world erupt around you and to keep going to give of yourself to strangers – that’s beyond incredible.
And the bystanders who ran. Into the smoke, not away from it – they are no less incredible.
I’ve seen a lot of quotes shared on twitter and facebook about the tragedy and these are the ones that make the difference.
Look for the helpers. This was a tragedy. A disaster. A statement? I don’t know. But the number of people behind the evil is dwarfed by the number of people who responded to do good. And that is the part of humanity we need to cherish.