The week goes on. New horrible news has filled the TV screen. We go back to work. We continue with our daily lives and go back to the way things were before we heard about it.
I continue to blog. I continue to write on other topics. But still it sits there. Waiting for more to be said. More to be done. But what? What can we do? What can we say?
Still the thoughts won’t go away. Won’t leave my mind. Something is begging to be said. But I have no idea what it is.
My thoughts keep going back to Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to ever officially run the Boston Marathon. (Other women ran, but weren’t allowed bib numbers to show that they were “official” runners and to have their results included among the male runners. Kathrine registered using her initials only and was given a bib number. Once the “mistake” was discovered, race officials stormed the track and tried to remove her numbers, but other male racers formed a barrier around her and her boyfriend shoved them away.) Kathrine is quoted as saying this:
“If you lose faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.”
On Monday when I first heard the news, that quote immediately popped into my mind. And I didn’t want that quote to be tainted by having it discovered that the bombing was intentional. But, of course, it was confirmed that it was no accident. Someone did this on purpose. On purpose.
Still, that quote was there. I couldn’t get it out of my head. But doesn’t this event erase that quote? Shouldn’t what happened serve to prove that humanity is somehow tainted now and Ms. Switzer’s words no longer stand true?
No, it does not.
I have struggled so much with this. And I’ve finally figured out why that quote doesn’t want to leave my mind.
It’s still true.
“If you lose faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.” Yes. Watch the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. Watch what happened surrounding the horrible, unfathomable bombing that took place at the finish line. Watch how people immediately responded and started helping each other. Watch how perfect strangers lifted each other off the ground and carried each other where further help awaited. Watch how marathoners ripped off their shirts on the spot and used them as tourniquets to stop blood flow on the injured. Watch how Dr Vivek Shah, an orthopedic surgeon who was just ready to approach the finish line area when he heard the blasts, continued to run towards the scene and immediately began using his expertise to aid the victims. Watch how other finishers passed the 26.2-mile finish line and continued running an extra 2 miles to Massachusetts General Hospital where they donated blood.
Listen to the stories that followed in the days to come. Listen to the story of Laura Wellington. Laura was one of the ones who did not finish and was still running when the blast occurred. She knew that her family and friends were waiting at the finish line and didn’t know if they were safe. Once she finally found out what was happening and, after wandering around alone and in fear for her loved ones, was finally able to contact a member of her party to confirm their safety, she fell to the ground crying with relief. By this point, a couple, one of whom had finished the marathon, was walking in the same area and stopped to ask if she was ok. She convinced them she was and, after explaining the situation, the man, who had just worked so hard to obtain the coveted Boston Marathon medal, took that very medal from around his neck and gave it her. Just like that. Laura put out a plea on Facebook as what she thought was a hopeless attempt at locating this kind man who extended such a humane gesture to her – and was able to identify him. Brent Cunningham from Alaska. Brent now joins the list among the many, many little heroes that surround this tragedy.
Even now, on a smaller scale, look around you. Odds are that you probably know a runner. And most of us, not having any clue what to do to show our support, have done all we know to do. We just run. Running isn’t going to fix anything (at this point, what can really?), and it’s not going to change what happened in any way, but it is our attempt to show that our spirit remains untouched. We put on our fake little printed out Boston memorial “bibs” and run in honor of all who were affected in any way – including ourselves. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to do. So we run. We just run.
And still humanity stands firm. We are still what we were seconds before those blasts occurred. We are human beings who love each other; who care about each other; and who rise to the occasion when we’re needed. We keep moving.
We just keep moving. A little shaken, yes. A little confused, yes. Feeling a little helpless, yes. But still moving.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”– Mahatma Gandhi