At 2:50 PM Monday afternoon, two explosions occurred on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Copley Square. As of 10:30 AM, as I post this, there have been three confirmed deaths and approximately 176 injured. Some of those injured have been reported to have lost limbs. One of those killed was an 8-year-old boy and one of the critically injured was a fellow BU student. Initially, third and fourth devices were said to have been found nearby but Governor Deval Patrick has stated otherwise. A third explosion occurred at JFK library at roughly 5 PM as well, though this has been dismissed as a mechanical fire and any speculation of a connection is just that. There are no reported injuries from that explosion. Though Boston PD has not officially arrested any suspects yet, there are reports that one Saudi man being in custody, though he denies involvement. Regardless of reports, the BPD have stated that no one has been taken into custody.
This post is incredibly hard to wrap my head around. I’m not even positive what to write about to be perfectly honest. The Boston Marathon is without a doubt the biggest gathering of people in Boston per year. I should know; I’ve been to a few of them during my time at Boston University. Not only is the Marathon a gathering of athletes, their friends, and families, it is a gathering of thousands of very drunk students and Bostonians. It is a day that many Bostonians look forward to like Christmas. Marathon Monday is an excuse to come together as a city and celebrate not only the 117 year old tradition, but to celebrate a start to spring and the identity of a city so zealously beloved by its people.
I’m lucky enough to be able to say that none of my friends were injured in the explosions, though all were very, and understandably, frightened. The streets became mayhem as onlookers and participants quickly fled the explosions trying desperately to contact their friends and loved ones. As you watch one of the many videos, you will see an explosion occur right next to the finish line and as people scatter please note the police, security, and medical professionals running into the fray. It is on days like these where we remember how incredibly lucky we are to have such brave and well trained men and women working to keep our public interests of safety and health paramount. It is on days like these that we hold our family and friends tighter and let them know how dearly we love them. It is on days like these that we all stop and pray to our respective gods or lack thereof a little more piously for a world less marred by this pain and hatred. It is on days like these that we should and can come together in love and compassion rather than unjustly blame people who were completely uninvolved and perpetuate the hate that all too often comes coupled with immense fear and anguish.
If and when a suspect is named or a perpetrator is identified do not demonize a community they may belonged to. Skin color and religion do not drive people to do insane things, demented minds do. If only skin and religion caused violence then the world would only consist of Hitlers, Joseph Konys, Osama bin Ladens, etc. One of my greatest fears is that of the scared mob. Hate and pain are so easily set ablaze by false reports and prejudice.
However, what I fear more than anything is that we will forget and move on, just as we have with so many tragedies. We cannot live in fear and we should be open to forgiving but to forget is to close your eyes. As a boy who had many of my most formative years in a post-9/11 world that has been riddled with war, mass shootings, and other senseless acts of violence, I cannot help but feel somewhat numb to the pain. Of course tragedies like today’s still shock us but how soon after do we simply go back to the status quo rather than making meaningful change? It is not a day for politics and, honestly, I’m not sure what sort of legislation, if any, would help avert situations such as these. It may hurt but to simply shrug it off does not make for meaningful change. A generation of Americans inured to senseless acts of violence stands to survive tragedies but not to build positive futures from them. In fact, I can’t help but think that underneath this calloused surface wells more rage and confusion than we would know how to properly handle.
So what is the answer then? How do we react? In post-9/11 America the answer seems to be violence but I can’t help but think of the cliché, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Besides, in such an attack, whom do you go after? Let’s say we execute the person or persons who committed this atrocity, will their deaths bring back our loved ones? Will it undo all the pain that has occurred? I can’t help but think it won’t, as a war does not seem to have lessened our number of problems or healed our nation’s 12-year-old scars.
It is times like these that we must look to create bridges rather than burn them. We must share love and bring people in rather than casting them out due simply to fear and illegitimate rumors. We have the potential to be the best humanity has to offer. It is up to us to seize that opportunity rather than throw it aside to quench a violent thirst that seems insatiable. I do not expect it to be easy, nor do I expect it to be popular. But now is when justice serves its purpose, nothing more, nothing less. Now is when we rise above our perhaps-warranted wrath and ascend to becoming a nation that fosters love rather than revenge. We can be the better people, so why don’t we start here? As Patton Oswalt, of all people, said, “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.”