I set out to write a post this afternoon about what it’s like to celebrate a post-grad birthday, but with the events of this past week still fresh in everyones minds, I just feel it isn’t yet appropriate.
Two days ago, as all of us are fully aware, Boston was struck by acts of terror, injuring and killing bystanders at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. These actions were completely unjustified. In my father’s own words, “utter bullshit.” Not only were they directed at innocents, but because there seems to be simply no reason behind it. At a time when each of the affected persons and families, all of America at that, is waiting for answers, there are none. We are all asking questions, and each is met with a resounding silence.
This is the latest in a series of events in our country that has caused me to doubt over and over whether or not we as humans are inherently good. It’s the question that was asked through the majority of my Sociology classes during my years at the University of Miami. “Are we, as people, inherently good, and do some diverge and become bad?” or “Are we inherently bad, and do the many who are able to overcome that, show us the good in the world?” Through all of these tragedies we’ve witnessed, from the Sandy Hook shootings to the Aurora Colorado massacre all the way back to 9/11, there is evidence abound for the latter assumption. And yet, I still have to stand behind the first.
As horrifying as each of these events is, and other smaller scale tragedies that don’t even make the headlines, what is even more breathtaking is the way we see people reach out to one another. If you’re following the news, you’re hearing these stories. Marathon runners who passed the finish line only to continue running towards the hospital to donate blood; Boston residents opening their homes to marathon runners; former NFL players carrying injured bystanders to safety. And cities across our nation uniting, and standing with each other.
Like this widely circulated photo preaches, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” and as Dr. King’s quote continued, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
We see this, time and time again. When a state, or a city, or simply another American is affected by an act of terror or pain or anger, we stand together as a whole against that darkness. People reaching out to strangers, lending help and support to those in need. Whether it be in the form of monetary donations, blood drives, candlelight vigils, or simple social media updates. It’s our way of letting others know, “We’re here for you. Don’t give up. You’re not alone.”
And it is for this reason I know that we as a people must be inherently good. Because while some take the darker path and for reasons unbeknownst to the rest of us, hurt those around them, the rest of society joins hands against violence, against hate. And we fight, like so many around us, to stop these terrorizing acts that happen so close to home. And we don’t let these events stop us. New Yorkers went back to work in their office buildings. Students in Newtown, Connecticut went back to school. Colorado residents still go to movie theaters, and people across the nation will continue to run marathons. In fact, we may see people running marathons in honor of those victimized by these acts. Like George W. Bush declared in his address after the September 11th attacks, even acts that “shatter steel cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
We’re asking lots of questions, about who stands behind this and why. But maybe the best answer, for once, can just be, “You’re safe. This person won’t hurt you again. There will be justice.” Imagine his or her name is not published. And he or she does not get the fame they probably wished to achieve through this. Well, good. To me, that’s justice. For them to be punished – and worse, to have no one even know their name.
My heart goes out to all who were affected, not only by the bombings at the Boston marathon, but to anyone who’s lives or families have felt the pain of tragedies big and small across America and across the world. And I hope that the light of the goodness of others can dispel the darkness.