‘Live Your Life.’
Sounds simple, and it probably is. But it was the advice given by a psychologist in response to the question posed by a CNN interviewer: “What do we do after this?”
The “this” she was referring to was the pair of bombs set off at the Boston Marathon that resulted in the deaths of three people and the injury of at least 176 others on Monday, April 15.
As of now, just 24 hours later (this column is written Tuesday, remember?) investigators still don’t know who set the bombs off, or why. Was it a case of domestic terrorism by some “out there” group with an axe to grind? Was it foreign-inspired, perhaps al Qaeda, or even North Korea? Was it orchestrated by a group, or was it the work of a lone assailant?
Nobody to this point has come forward to claim responsibility.
These and other questions will likely be answered in time, but in the meantime, how are we to deal with the uncertainty? Can this happen again? Maybe the London Marathon, which is coming up? Maybe anywhere?
Hence the advice.
“Live your life.” You can’t live worrying about where the next thing is going to happen. That’s what the perpetrator wants. He wants to disrupt your life and make you live in fear. Don’t give him that power over you.
Perhaps the best response so far comes from a comedian, Patton Oswalt, who posted the following on Facebook, referring to the darkness that accompanies an event such as this: “The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.”
His post recorded 260,000 likes in the first 24 hours.
He pointed out, too, that the images that came out showing what happened immediately following the blasts was the response by police, medical personnel and bystanders: they were seen running toward the blast zone.
If we focus on the helpers rather than the perpetrators, we can keep events such as this in its proper perspective. Sure, there will be destruction, injury and loss of life, but people will respond, showing all the while that we are stronger than the perpetrators give us credit for, and we will not be defeated.
Patton summed it up best: “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.’”
I have been at a marathon, not as a runner but as a supporter of a runner, and I can attest to the feeling of camaraderie and togetherness all runners feel. It’s not hard for the supporters to feel it, too. I’ll never forget the voice from the crowd “Way to go, Grandma”, which put a huge lump in my throat.
So when we read about people who have run the Boston Marathon going through extreme anxiety because of the events in Boston, worried that maybe someone from their “running family” may have been involved, we can empathize and feel their pain.