Terror in Boston
Normally, this column would be about my vacation.
That’s what I usually do after my vacations — write a column in which I describe my fun adventures, share humorous anecdotes and reflect upon what a good time I’ve had.
But I can’t write a vacation column this week.
As soon as I heard the terrible Boston Marathon news, from a passenger on my flight, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I like information, and I called a colleague while walking down to baggage claim to get some. But she couldn’t answer my main question: whether a friend who was working at the medical tent was OK. I wasn’t the only one worrying, of course. People across the globe were asking similar questions, reaching out to friends and loved ones to make sure that they were OK.
And many people were not OK, which is why Monday was such a horrible day.
My fears were put to rest almost immediately, as my friend’s boyfriend was waiting for me at baggage claim, as planned. He didn’t have to say anything — his presence alone told me what I needed to know. Because if my friend wasn’t OK, my guess is he would have been doing something other than picking me up from the airport. My friend called while we were driving, and the details were grim: blood and dismembered limbs everywhere, tourniquets, injured runners being wheeled to the medical tent. I was sad, but I was also angry.
And as the week has progressed, I’ve become angrier.
Which is fine, I think.
A terrible and evil act has been committed, by soulless and blackhearted people.
Why wouldn’t this make me angry?
Anger seems like a perfectly normal reaction to the intentional murder and maiming of civilians enjoying one of the country’s more storied traditions.
I’m not a marathon runner, but I know people who have run the marathon, including my cousin Adam and my good friend Ed, and I consider what happened Monday an attack on people I know and care about. One of the victims, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, was from Medford, Mass., the Boston suburb where I was born. I didn’t know her. But she seems like someone I could have known, or that friends or family could have known. I’m sure many people feel the same way.
When I arrived at work on Friday morning, residents of Boston and surrounding communities had been told to stay inside, as a manhunt for one of the suspects, a young Chechnyan man, was under way. His brother, the other suspect, had already been killed by police after a night of destruction that left one police officer dead and another wounded.
I have good friends and relatives who live in Boston and the surrounding communities.
The thought of them being terrorized makes me angry.
Perhaps my anger explains why I found the inspirational messages posted on social media in the aftermath of the bombing so irritating.
Nothing against Mister Rogers, but I grew very tired, very quickly, of seeing his uplifting quote about how, in times of disaster, people should “look for the helpers” and be comforted by the fact that there are “so many caring people in the world.” I also like the comedian Patton Oswalt, but his short essay about how good people outnumber bad people, and how there is darkness in the world but “the vast majority stands against that darkness,” also left me cold.
I’m not in the mood for uplift.
The whole public ritual that follows these tragedies — well, I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of the vigils, and the interfaith services and the rush to celebrate humanity in a time of shock and grief. Such rituals are necessary, I suppose, but I’m tired of them.
After Newtown and Aurora, we heard similar talk of unity and resilience, read similar commentary about how nothing will ever be the same, made the same attempts to locate the good in the bad.
As the week went on, I became very focused.
My only concern was that the authorities figure out who planted the bombs at the marathon and find them. I don’t want vengeance, but accountability and punishment. I think The Byrds (or maybe Ecclesiastes) put it well when they wrote that “to everything/there is a season/and a time to every purpose/under heaven” and spoke of “a time of love, a time of hate” and “a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.”
Well, for me this is a time of anger.
And at some point, my anger will wear off.
But I’m going to nurse it for a little while longer.
On Thursday, when the FBI released images of two suspects, I felt pleased. I rarely post pictures and videos on Facebook, but I shared the images, as did many of my friends. “Let’s find them,” many of my friends wrote.
Which was a sentiment I completely agreed with.
Next week, when things are a little more normal, I’ll write about my vacation.
But this wasn’t the time for that.
Foss Forward makes a weekly appearance in print, in The Gazette’s Saturday Lifestyles section. You can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.