Tuesday, April 23, 2013
On trying to be Boston Strong
Hello Blog friends. I'm feeling better today. Yesterday was rough. It was my first chance to process all that happened last week--Monday's bombing. The mourning, the investigation. Having dinner with my friend Super-G Thursday night, listening to her story of being at the marathon during the bombing, hugging her as we headed home... and then learning that the suspects had killed an MIT police officer three blocks away shortly after we left. Staying up most of that night watching the news, scanning Twitter, hearing the replay of the shootout, waiting and wondering and praying. And then Friday (when I was sure this would be over) waking up to a text from my brother about how I shouldn't take THAT DOG outside, turning on the news to learn that we were under lock-down. Listening to birds chirping outside--they city is so eerie when it's quiet. Our friends Emily and Gavin called: they knew the Tsarnaev brothers when they lived next door to them on Norfolk Street. The boys used to help them with their groceries and hang out with them in their courtyard. (You can hear Emily interviewed here.) Hours later, when the lockdown was called off, three Cambridge Police vehicles appeared on our street to search a three-story house that was boarded up after a fire last year. And then the air filled with echoes of gunfire and sirens and helicopters. We heard flash-bangs through our living room window as they found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding, bleeding, in that boat one town away.
To sum it up bluntly: It really sucks to hear something Anderson Cooper is covering on the news live through your window.
It is surreal to discover that the suspects in this awful event were from here. That all the Cantabridgian insistence on acceptance and diversity and political correctness hasn't created some magical atmosphere where everyone is free from evil. Good intentions just can't accomplish that. I knew that, of course. I kind of loathe all the political correctness. But I guess at some level I'd bought into the lie that if you cover your world with enough nice, nothing really bad can grow there. I was wrong.
But it wasn't all bad. Most of my tears were prompted by stunned relief: as I saw law enforcement officials streaming in from EVERYWHERE: A friend's husband is a State Trooper in CT; he was here. The SWAT team came from Quantico, VA. I lost track of all the different groups after awhile, and was just a soggy mess of gratitude that so many would do so much to help.
And there was much-needed help & hilarity online: Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore tweet. And Glenn Fleishman, who pointed out to everyone who seemed baffled that the suspect was hiding in a boat...on land...in a place called Watertown: "People not from New England: Every house, even 500 miles from ocean, has tarped-over rotting boat in backyard in New England." (He's totally right.) And Seth Mnookin, a science writer from MIT who couldn't get to his car Thursday night because it was parked in the perimeter and so live-tweeted search updates for about 40 consecutive hours. Not to mention the texts, calls, tweets, FB posts & emails from friends (some of whom I've never met in person) who took a minute to check in to see if we were okay. Those meant more than I can say.
But here's a confession: I couldn't post about any of this yesterday because I was too angry. Not big-picture angry; I'm not there yet. Rather, at random things that don't usually get to me.
I was mad at Christians who used these events as an opportunity to jump on their chosen soap-box, posting things that didn't make much sense, like this: "Blaming Muslims for terrorism is like blaming Catholics for the Latin drug cartels" (Um, hello? I've never heard a cartel leader claim that they pursued drug distribution out of passion for their Catholic faith or to please the Pope). Or this: "To say all Muslims are represented by these terrorists is like saying all Christians are represented by the members of Westboro Baptist Church" (Again...not really. As reprehensible as Westboro Baptist is, I don't think they've ever killed anyone to get their point across).
I wasn't angry about any of this because I'm anti-Muslim. I'm all for NOT blaming entire swaths of humanity for the actions of extremists. I was angry because these were ridiculous attempts to jump on the bandwagon of this tragedy with an agenda, and I didn't have the bandwidth to filter out ridiculousness without getting angry. (In Star Wars terms, my deflector shields were low.)
But maybe I needed a day to be mad. Maybe I should give thanks for these silly statements because they helped me focus the anger. I'm not much for punching pillows, but a couple of walks (okay, stomps) around the block muttering about these things, along with a long vent with Steve when he got home from work, helped: as I said, I feel much better today.
Today, I'm able to celebrate with the law enforcement officials, and weep with the families whose lives will never be the same. I'm able to pray for the hundreds of unnamed victims of the bombings who are expected to live and ask God to help them move beyond mere survival...for the miracle that each of them thrive. And at the same time, to pray for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who really does seem like a kid who got caught up in something faster, stronger, and bigger than he could manage.
Today, as I walked THAT DOG around the block, I'm thinking about the lyrics to this song by our friend Andy Young:
God of all comfort
God of all peace
God of all hope and joy
Come rest on your people
Come move in our hearts
Give peace to the anxious ones
That we might see you
That we might hold your hand
That we might know you are God
May it be so.