“In times of tragedy, the true colors of an individual, a city, and a nation are revealed.”
I just finished scrolling through 82 pictures of yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombing and watching a few news videos. Yesterday most of us were glued to the media in horror, acknowledging, as the day progressed, the efficiency of first responders on site. But it is on this day, the second day, that stories of heroism and community have started to emerge. Those 82 pictures, those few videos, and those few news stories stirred powerful things within me: compassion, empathy, hope and triumph.
In fact, it just now dawned on me that anger has yet to be an emotion I have experienced in watching this tragedy unfold. I believe that is because there were so many other things rising up that day, and today as well, which entirely eclipse the raw, untamed, yet justified emotion of anger.
What has gripped me most in these past two days are the heroic efforts of citizens and officials joining together immediately following the blast. Within seconds, without hesitation, running to offer aid rather than running away in fear of self harm. Strangers suddenly surged with a deep connectedness to other strangers, offering help, hugs, comfort, and prayer, all while bowing their own bodies in a sea of mingled blood.
It seemed as though everything faded into the background for those down in the pit of all the chaos. What surfaced individually and collectively is what I call our greater humanity. Those responsible for this destruction and alteration of lives are slaves to their lesser humanity, and like rabid emaciated dogs they cower in their confusion, disillusion, and poverty. A great and terrible poverty of spirit abides in them. But a greater spirit of a pure nature seemed to take hold of people en mass and compel them as one towards doing good even in the midst of evil.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NIV)
That is exactly what Bostonians and fellow Americans did yesterday. Yes the horror overwhelmed them and those of us watching. Yes, there will be grieving and a long road to healing. And yes, we will pursue justice with the understanding that those responsible potentially may never be found. Justice may be a long road, or it may be a dead-end.
But all these by products of evil pale in light of the individual, communal, and national heroism that ignited seconds after the physical blasts. These people engaged their greater humanity in an instant and elevated together into the high potential which exists in all of us and is ours to nurture or neglect: a place marked by goodness, concern and care for others, selflessness, togetherness, unity, and an indomitable spirit of freedom and courage.
I believe that even as the vibrations from the blasts shook the air, so also did a longer and more sustained hum vibrate through the atmosphere yesterday. Not anything we could perceive with the physical senses, but maybe something spiritual, something of the human spirit and the Holy Spirit partnering in the recognition of the truth that good always triumphs over evil, that we should not be overcome by it because it does not conquer us unless we let it live in our own hearts.
Where were the culprits of the bombing yesterday? No where to be found. Instead we saw, and continue to see people rise up in the face of tragedy and refuse to be defeated. It is almost odd that this happened at a marathon. On a metaphorical level Americans, Bostonians, families, and individuals will still cross the finish line and they will do it together. Hindered, injured, winded, or tired, but together they will draw strength. May the city of Boston feel a soothing wind to cool the fiery blast, may they know our American and human spirit is behind them cheering them on even as they have risen to a place that frankly inspires us and gives us the breath to stay with them in the race of good over evil.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke