It’s difficult to put into words the emotions that still linger after the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the week. I’m sure we’ll all be processing it for a long time to come. This blog is the beginning part of my process. Thanks for joining me.
First, I’m not a native of Boston or Massachusetts. I’m a Midwestern girl who doesn’t happen to be all that fond of cities. When I took my current job in Boston more than eight years ago my biggest worry was whether I could stand traveling into a city everyday for work. I thought I’d grow tired of it. I never did. The people who I travel with every day on the train have become good friends. I look forward to chatting and laughing with them every day. Boston has also gotten under my skin and into my heart. It’s a small city loaded with character, cultural diversity, history and gritty resilience from the North End to Faneuil Hall and the Back Bay. What I’ve come to learn about cities is that they are like an organism made up of all of its necessary parts. Boston is a living breathing thing that was wounded when those bombs went off at the finish line of the Marathon. It’s a wound that will hurt for a while to come, but it will heal. I know it because I know Boston. She’s a beautiful, strong and amazing place.
The two things I love most about the Marathon is the energy it creates and that it’s a celebration of a sport that is all about freedom. It’s fitting that the Marathon takes place on Patriot’s day. For those who run, you know what I mean. I feel most free when I’m off on a good run in the woods. With running, only minimal gear is needed and you get to go wherever your legs will take you. You aren’t confined to a stadium or field and neither are the spectators. It really pisses me off that that freedom was what the terrorists exploited. As for the energy in Boston on Marathon day, it is something not to be missed. The air is thick with the positive energy and excitement over the race from both the runners and spectators. It’s not the kind of sport that pits team against team. Sure, the elite runners are in it to win, but in larger part, the Marathon is about camaraderie, personal achievement and charity with the spectators there to cheer on their loved ones and friends.
In the moments, hours and days after the bombing, the mood of Boston changed dramatically from the excitement and feeling of freedom that comes with the Marathon to devastation. Boston was heartbroken, angry, confused, scared and not so free at all. Not only were the murderers still on the loose, military and civilian police, the FBI and swat teams filled the city. I will never forget stepping off of the train and seeing military police officers in flak jackets carrying assault weapons. The day the President came to Boston to mourn the victims of the bombings a swat team was parked outside my building for the most of the day. Heavily armed police officers with bomb sniffing dogs were stationed throughout the city. Next we had the surreal complete lockdown of Boston and its immediate suburbs as the police closed in on the men who committed the horrible murderous crimes. While I understand and was grateful for that police presence, it felt akin to what I would imagine it would feel like to sleep with a loaded 45 under one’s pillow. Not a good feeling at all. And, definitely not healthy in the long run.
I’m immensely relieved that the terrorists were captured before any more innocent people were killed or hurt. Just like everyone else, I’ll be processing this for while to come. But, here’s the thing. The bullshit from politicians and gun advocates is already starting and that frightens me even more than the events of the past week. As grateful as I am for all of those heroic police officers who put their lives on the line to stay between the public and the bad guys, I don’t want to live in a society where heavily armed guards are on every street corner. I don’t want to live in a society in which those accused of even the most heinous crimes are denied their Miranda rights. There is even talk from some politicians that the surviving terrorist should be tried in a military court instead of the civilian courts. This is the United States of America! We’re supposed to give bad guys a fair trial no matter how bad they are. That’s what makes us, us.
Now is not the time for us to give in to fear and allow ourselves to become something we don’t recognize. I don’t want to live in a militarized society afraid of every shadow and unwilling to stand by our principles of justice. I don’t want to live in a society filled with vigilantes armed to the teeth with assault weapons under the guise (bullshit) of keeping the peace. Seriously? I don’t want to live with the proverbial loaded 45 underneath my pillow.
While the heavy police presence made me nervous over the last couple of days, yes, I was comforted by their presence and immensely proud of them. They were and are the good guys. My heart breaks for the MIT officer who was ambushed and killed by the vicious cowards who thought nothing of killing innocent people. The police in the immediate aftermath of the bombings were our protectors as it should be. But going forward, our job as citizens is to educate ourselves and our children, pay our taxes so that we can afford to pay the police to do what we expect them to do and hold our politicians to the highest standards, including the rule of law as provided in our Constitution. If we do that, we’ll be fine. I’m not saying that bad things won’t ever happen again. They will because the world has its share of bad people. But, we won’t become something we don’t’ recognize. We have a whole lot more to fear than fear itself. Our downfall will be ignorance, intolerance and complacency.
So, let’s honor those precious lives lost or injured and the amazing everyday heroes who came to their rescue by being our best selves. Peace.