Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Response to the Boston Marathon Tragedy: "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"

"Be the change you wish to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said.  If everyone who is saddened by the horrible tragedy that occurred yesterday finds even one way to act for positive change in our world, think of the difference we could make. 

This is not what I wanted to be writing about for my 100th blog post.  It seems like only days ago that I was writing about the Newtown school shootings, and now, tragedy so close to home.

I don't have much to say, but I am feeling a great deal.  Gratitude for the safety of my family, especially my husband, who finished the Boston Marathon before the bombings and was only blocks away from the explosions.  Sorrow and horror for the families of those who were not so lucky.  Outrage, frustration, and the fear and sadness that comes whenever we are reminded of our own mortality and that of those we love.

There are families whose lives were forever changed yesterday.  For those of us who are so lucky to have our loved ones safe, I hope that we can be change instead.

I know that people will light candles, and hold vigils, and commit random acts of kindness as a means of healing and moving forward.  I hope we all find sources of healing.

I would actually urge people to consider an alternative to the popular pay it forward, random acts of kindness.  I would rather see purposeful acts towards change.  It is a fine thing to buy someone behind you a cup of coffee, but perhaps a better thing to donate money or time to a homeless shelter and help someone truly in need.  I can light a candle and offer a moment of silence, but I would rather make an appointment to donate blood.  (There's no reason not to do both.)

Events like this can make us feel powerless.  I cannot give Martin Richard or the other victims their lives back.  But I actually do have the power to save a life. 
  • I made an appointment to donate blood 
  • I am not going to answer my cell phone or text (which is illegal in MA) while I am driving. 
  • I have registered at www.bethematch.org to be a bone marrow donor if I'm a match (make sure you understand the level of commitment and talk to your family if you're considering joining)
  • I'm a registered organ donor

Yesterday was such a dichotomy - an incredible event, of 27,000 runners running an insane distance of 26.2 miles, cheered on by spectators, accomplishing incredible speeds and feats of athleticism, and many of them overcoming incredible obstacles in order to do so.  All of them had trained hard, and long, and run many, many miles leading up to this wonderful celebration of human spirit.

On the other hand, there was a horrible tragedy that cost lives and injuries and brought this amazing event to a screeching halt.

Watching the event, and the response to the event, I had all these conflicting feelings of whether the world is a wonderful or horrible place, whether people are amazing and incredible or cruel and unthinkably evil.

The good news: tens of thousands more people were there because they were celebrating something beautiful and amazing than because they wished to hurt someone.

I had an outpouring of support and concern in the aftermath of the tragedy as friends texted me, family called me, and three of my neighbors knocked on our door to find out if Greg and our family was o.k.  Our National Guard and our Police Officers and other first responders are hard at work making sure we're safe.   Other cities have offered Boston support, and people all over the country and the world are speaking about this tragedy and offering their assistance.

People are good, people care, people want the world to be a better place, a place where these things don't happen.

I don't know how we can prevent future tragedies, but I do have a lot of ideas for how we can make the world a better place.  We can all, in our own way, find something that we can do in remembrance and in commemoration of this tragedy, that will change the world for the better.

Find your way to make this world better.  What are your resources?  What causes speak to you most?  I am young and healthy, but don't have much time to volunteer because I'm a stay at home mom of two young children.  I can donate blood, I can be patient when I'm driving.  I can donate to the Heifer project and help a mother trying to feed her children.  I can join the bone marrow registry and maybe save a cancer patient.  I can recycle, I can be more careful to buy only what I need, I can drive safely, I can treat waitstaff and people in the service industry with respect, I can talk to my children about being kind to everyone.

What can you do?

I snapped this photo of Greg to send to worried family members just after he'd gotten off the commuter rail from Boston.  It was only after I viewed it on the computer that I realized you could still see my tears of relief on his shirt.  He finished before the explosions and was blocks away - I wish everyone had been so lucky.

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