Imagine you’re standing in the beautiful city of Boston on a gorgeous spring day. Imagine being surrounded by 500,000 excited people from all around the world. Imagine witnessing months of incredibly hard work pay off. Imagine seeing joyous families proudly embrace one another. Imagine seeing thousands of people celebrate a great physical achievement. Imagine being part of one of the most inspiring events in the world.
Now imagine all that coming to a sudden and tragic end. On Monday, April 15, for more than 20,000 runners, no imagination was needed. For them, nothing was more real than the dark reality that months of preparation and anticipation ended with 3 deaths and almost 150 injuries. As authorities continue to investigate the explosions that occurred near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, we can only hope that those responsible are brought to justice.
At Northwestern, as for all across the country, this incident hit close to home. For many of us, Boston is the home of friends or family. Since the tragedy, I’ve seen Facebook posts by friends (Northwestern alumni) who were at the marathon. I’ve heard fellow Wildcats in class discuss how they were friends or neighbors of some of the victims. And for me, anxiety hit like a freight train when I realized my girlfriend, who volunteered at the marathon, had been at the finish only 30 minutes before the explosions. This tragedy has affected all of us in one way or another, and will continue to do so.
The question now is what will come of this, the latest in a long line of tragedies we have faced this year? Sadly, there is no doubt politics will be brought in at some point. Someone in some office, or some law (or lack of), or some cultural changes, will be blamed. But instead of looking ahead to that and the division this will cause, let us take a moment. Look past the horrific incident to observe what has gone unnoticed.
For all of the pain, suffering, terror, and sadness that has come of April 15, we were also able to witness the amazing humanity and unity that defines Americanism. In a nation that seems to be ever more divided, the Boston Marathon tragedy reminds us all that there is more to us than differing political affiliations, racial identities, social classes, and religions. What truly unites us as Americans is our unyielding intolerance to evil and those who would commit it, no matter who or how far away the victims are. It is our relentless drive to bring evildoers everywhere to justice. Now, we all stand with Boston. We will find the people who caused the suffering and death there, and they will face the consequences of their actions.
Just as the victims at the Boston Marathon did not have to imagine pain, suffering, and death interrupting a great and triumphant moment, we do not have to imagine people coming together to help complete strangers, running the extra distance on weak and wobbling legs to give blood at the closest hospital. It’s real. We can see it. We are part of it.