A little over a year ago, we all watched the news with terror as images of the Boston Marathon bombing hit our screens. The events of that day, along with the manhunt that followed, left many of us with a sense of fear. We’ve experienced this many times together as a nation – tragedies at Columbine, the World Trade Center, Aurora CO, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood (twice), and Boston remind us that our safety is always precarious. We cannot protect ourselves; we cannot protect our families. When you throw in random tragedies like car accidents and terminal illnesses, it can all be too much to handle.
Sometimes, the world’s tragedies make me want to give up – to crawl in a hole somewhere and hug the people I love to keep them safe. But the hole probably isn’t safe, either. It’s a scary thing to realize the utter vulnerability that we face in every day living. Every day, we dodge thousands of proverbial bullets – and some people live in places where they are dodging literal ones. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PROTECT OURSELVES. Yikes.
Watching the Boston Marathon though, a year after the bombing, I realized something about fear and tragedy. This past week in Boston, MORE, not fewer people came to cheer on the runners. MORE, not fewer, people signed up to run. The temptation to crawl in a hole and avoid danger did not hit city of Boston.
Now at first glance, it might seem a bit careless for all of those people to have decided to participate in this event after such tragedy last year. It’s like watching the news and seeing people who have their houses hit by tornadoes over and over – and we wonder why they don’t just move. Don’t they get that their current situation isn’t safe anymore?
Well, the city of Boston was smarter than all of that. The people involved in planning this event spent time reflecting. They looked at the event and found where the weaknesses were. They were honest about their faults. Then, they got to work. They brainstormed possible changes and new safety measures that could be implemented. They asked people to carry materials in clear bags. They increased security in some areas. They had a plan for keeping the crowds down at the finish line.
Boston wasn’t going to let one bad day ruin the joy of their tradition. They reflected, made changes, and had courage. People went back in large force, and participated in a safe and successful event. The best part is that many people used this year’s race as a way to heal from last year’s tragedy. If the city had decided to give up and cancel, many people would have been unable to continue the healing process.
We can all learn from Boston. Tragedies are a part of our lives. That is an uncontested fact. Crawling in a hole never solved anything or made tragedies less common. So, what we can do is reflect on the situation, decide what is within our control to change, create new safety nets for ourselves, and get back out in the world. By taking these steps, we can begin to more fully heal.