viernes, 19 de abril de 2013

On Boston, running and what we’re made of

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On Wednesday, I went running. I’d seen the signs all around Facebook, “Run for Boston”, they said, and I thought it was appropriate, fitting, in a way. It felt like I was paying tribute. And yet, while I was running, the thought of how little it actually meant struck me. It was a symbol, yes, but what would a symbol from one person in Panama mean in the grand scheme of things?

I wasn’t sure, but I kept running. I went alone, so I did not take any pictures. I did not dress any particular color. I told no one I was doing it. But I ran, in a way, for those people who did not cross the finish line. For those that never will.

During the day I saw that a few people I knew had done the same. They’d gone running, they’d posted pictures. It was heart-warming, and it made me feel a little silly. I should have taken a picture. What’s the point of the action if you don’t send a message, I asked myself? Is there even one? Does it truly count?

Today, when I woke up with the news of a shut-down Boston, a suspect dead and another one in pursuit, it struck me how this whole story had been filled with so many good things, and so many bad things. We’re used to senseless acts of violence now. We’re immune, in a way. We can look at the gruesome images on the TV on a way we couldn’t have done fifteen years ago. We mourn, yes, we always do, but we expect things like this to happen. 

We are not surprised when they do.

And, maybe because of that, we act in ways that a decade ago would have seen heroic and now are merely commonplace. We run towards danger to help others. We offer food, shelter, and anything else we can to those people touched by tragedy. From the other side of the world we put on shoes and go on a run to support people we have never met, people we will probably never meet.

Yes, we’ve become jaded, but I like to think that we’ve also become better. More empathetic. We’re still different, but we’re better suited to put those differences behind and work towards a common goal. Tragedy used to divide us, and in a way, it still can, but it can also unite us. And it so clearly does. 

We also understand better a concept that was so beautifully stated by the wonderful comedian Patton Oswalt, and that went viral a few days after the bombings in Boston.

“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.”


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