It has been a rough week in the United States. With news of the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon on Monday, not only did it force Americans to take pause from their daily routines, but people from all over the world took notice. The Boston Marathon is the oldest such race in the United States and the most famous such race in the world, this year drawing nearly 27,000 runners, representing 96 countries. While understandably there has been much focus on the tragic loss of life and limb which resulted from the blasts, and the blatant reminder that life is fragile, we have also seen incredible examples of the best of humanity in the aftermath.
One of the most circulated quotes on this internet this week, following Monday’s tragedy, comes from Mr. Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister who was more famous for his children’s television show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which aired from 1968-2001. He had once said that “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.” And the helpers have shown up in droves this week.
Immediately following the blasts, there were people who bravely ran to help the injured victims, not knowing if there were more bombs waiting to be detonated, they just knew they had to help. Naturally, as we would expect, there were the local firemen, police, first responders, as well as the National Guard, who valiantly rushed to serve their community. But what really caught our attention were the stories of ordinary (and not so ordinary) citizens who selflessly and courageously stepped up to be of service to their fellow humans.
Retired New England Patriots football superstar Joe Andruzzi, who was attending an event hosted by his cancer charity in a building near where the blasts occurred, ran out to help carry the injured. Peace activist Carlos Arrendondo, who lost his oldest son to the Iraq war in 2004, and his younger son to suicide in 2006, used his training and experience as a Red Cross Volunteer to rush to the aid of the blast victims. Many runners, who had just completed the grueling 26.2 mile run, continued running to the nearest hospital to donate blood for the victims. There were doctors who had completed the race and came back to tend to the wounded. People opened their hearts and homes to strangers who needed a place to stay. Local restaurants offered a place for people to find comfort and free food. Yoga studios are offering free classes to help people de-stress and recharge. Art studios are offering free classes for kids. Therapy dogs that provided comfort to the citizens of Newtown following the tragic shooting there last year are being brought in to offer comfort to Bostonians. And the list goes on…
It is important that we acknowledge the tragedy and devastation of the bomb blasts and their impact on all of the lives that have been affected, and critical that we allow ourselves to grieve, in whatever way we must, in order to process this life-changing event. But we must not allow ourselves to get trapped in the rabbit hole of despair. Yes, there are unspeakable tragedies and unfathomable acts of violence occurring all over the world every day, perpetrated by people who seem to lack any sense of compassion for others. But we cannot light the darkness with more darkness. Just like those beautiful examples of selflessness and generosity illustrated above, each of us must be the candle that lights the darkness. We don’t all have to be heroes, but we can all do something to make this world a little kinder and gentler. Rise and shine!