I don’t know how to find perspective in wake of this most recent violence in Boston, just an hour from where I call home. Twelve years ago, I had perspective. I physically witnessed both planes fly into the Towers. I knew people who lost their lives. I heard first-hand personal stories from those I held dear. It was easier then. I was part of the fray, and I was honored to feel the pain from a place of true association. I was allowed to be in the inner circle of what was happening, and from that place, you have perspective. You are entitled to feelings of anger, grief, and sorrow.
But this time, it’s different. I didn’t know anyone who is in peril in a hospital anywhere. I don’t run; hell, I barely walk these days. I don’t follow marathons, nor did I know the history of the Boston Marathon until yesterday, a rich history that is now forever tainted. It’s been almost 24 hours since the bombs went off, and we have no idea who was involved. My gut — which has no right to have an opinion — says it was not international, but some messed up American person or persons who created this carnage on a local level, but will gain global notoriety because of it. But whatever comes from all this, I don’t feel I have a right to feel anything but a sense of voyeurism.
What do we do with what happened if we really have no personal association with it? A friend in Colorado sent me a picture of his snow-laden house this morning and said that more snow was on the way. I wanted to e-mail him back, “I don’t give a good God damn about snow, idiot, an eight-year-old boy was blown to bits after hugging his father who had just crossed the finish line, and you want to talk about snow? Who are you?” I have another friend who makes it all about her, even though she wasn’t there and knows no one who was affected. Perspective. Where do we Americans belong in these moments? How do we find perspective?
We are the only species that kills each other randomly for no reason. Okay, those who perpetrate these cowardly acts of terror will say there is a reason, but truth be told, there was no reason to kill that young boy, take away his sister’s limb, and put his mother in the Critical Care Unit of Mass General. No reason at all as far as I can tell. Why do we do that? What does it mean?
I search for answers at times like these, and I know that I will not find them. Gaining perspective, or finding a place to put feelings of grief, rage, and sorrow at times like these is impossible for me. Then time passes, feelings fade, and we move on with our lives with nothing much changed or gained. I have to believe there is something more here. I have to believe that we should be able to find something that helps put these kinds of events in perspective, or better yet, give us some tools to stop the next one.
I have to say that I strongly dislike (trying to keep the bad juju out of my life by using words like hate) the religious talk we hear at times like this. “God has a reason.” “At times like these, turn to God, who will give you strength and healing.” Seriously? If I were God, I’d shake my head and say, “You are on your own on this one people. Who have you become? This has nothing to do with me.” Yesterday, a dear friend of mine, with whom I share a love/hate relationship when it comes to religion and politics, said that the moral decline of the country was because families weren’t going to church. She would say that was not her point, but I would say it was. Perspective.
I want to go to sporting and other events with a song in my heart and no fear in my belly. My fabulous daughter, Sarah, graduated from Law School in Boston last year, and I wasn’t afraid for a moment. Should I have been? If she were graduating this year instead of last, would I worry whilst attending the festivities, listening to speeches designed to inspire? I think I would, and I’m sorry for those who will have to live with increased angst over the coming months and years until it all fades again with the novocaine of time.
I want to be able to put things like this into perspective. It seems like it would help me get through them. But for all my searching over the last few hours, I cannot.