Happy Easter/Passover/Spring/Sunday to you! Every year we each paint an egg. This is what I made this year. Because of the way it was hanging I couldn’t get the best side, but it is approximately the same thing on four sides.
I think this article from The Atlantic starts in a way that describes very well how I feel right now. “ We know what happened in Boston; we do not yet know what the hell happened in Boston.” All we know at this time is the tragedy of it all, with none of the explanation. Almost all we have is questions, and sadness. But we also have a lot of ‘We will not let this drag us down’ attitude, which I find to be a healthy and positive reaction. As a society, we may not be inured to events of terror, but we are learning to handle them. You could argue that it is either a good thing or a bad thing that we have learned to react this way, or that we have had to learn to react this way.
The rest of the article goes on to describe two small examples of the communal reaction expressed in the form of google doc spreadsheets, of all things. Another highlight of how technology in the past decade has changed the game in these sorts of events. With the advent of smartphones and the social web, we now have much faster communication of what has happened as word spreads rapidly on sites like reddit and twitter as well as the traditional journalism streams. We have orders of magnitude more live video and photos (especially as the marathon lends itself to spectators shooting video) for both the public and the police to examine and investigate. We have more ways of organizing ourselves out of the chaos that erupts – in addition to the above mentioned google docs, there were near instantly ways for people to check in and report their safety, to track and find missing people, to gather up friends and family separated by the catastrophe, and to organize support for individuals and the community as a whole (such as the spontaneous concert at Wellesley being organized for tonight).
But still, while we are moving rapidly to make what we can of the situation, we are only more acute of how slow it can be to get facts out of chaos. Casualty counts change, investigations of additional devices come and go, reports of persons of interest being detained surface and submerge, and speculations float all around tempting conclusions. There is the all too human need to understand, to point fingers, to not just act in support, but to react in anger. And these emotions are often faster than those of love and compassion, so it leaves us all the more unsettled when we must wait for an accurate and investigated set of facts to be shared.
Until then, the facts we have are those of consequences, and of lives affected or unaffected, and the emotions of caring, of hurting, and of defiance. Runners will run again next year, and the year after, and the year after, until the people who commit these atrocities learn that we will not give in to their fear-mongering.