The entire world has heard about the Boston Marathon bombings, seen the videos, the photos, read news accounts. We now know the names of the dead: 29 year old Krystle Campbell, Boston University graduate student from China, Lu Lingzi, and eight year old Martin Richard. We know the grievous injuries suffered by Martin's family and so many other victims. There's little need to rehash any of it here.
When I first saw the video footage of the bombings...the smoke...the debris...the fleeing, fearful people...the injured, something cold and eerily familiar gripped my stomach, a hybrid emotion borne of 9/11. Fear. Anger. Empathy. Sorrow. While my mind knew this was not 9/11, the core of me revisited 2001, and the angst came flooding back, instantly proving the complex resilience of humanity. In order to function and move forward, we lock our sorrows away behind closed doors we hope will never reopen, and then tragedy strikes, reminding us of our vulnerability and our pain. Our complacency dissolves, wounds are reopened, and we are right back where we started.
Or are we?
While the Boston bombings reawaken a personal connection to 9/11, for me there is one striking difference between the past and the present. Back then, overwhelming sorrow prohibited me from seeing any goodness, any light, emerge from the tragedy. I'm no saint; this time I initially had difficulty, too, but a facebook posting, a quote from the late, beloved Fred Rogers, put things into perspective. Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are sill so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Simple words. Strong message.
As Mr. Rogers (and his mother) so aptly said, goodness prevails. In the aftermath of the Boston tragedy, ABC News reported there were bystanders who raced toward the chaos rather than away from it. Bystanders like Carlos Arredondo, who assisted a victim who had lost both legs. Bystanders like former New England patriot Joe Andruzzi, who carried the injured to safety. And Army veteran Bruce Mendelsohn, who, though blocks away, felt the blast and ran directly into the terror to lend a hand. There are probably many other nameless heroes as well. How do I know? Because goodness prevails.
The Boston bombings may prove we have not yet beaten the beast, but it also proves we are not right back where we started, and we never will be...not as long as we adopt a Mr. Rogers' state of mind. Look for the helpers. Look for the goodness. That's where comfort and purpose lie.