Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bariatric Betty's races vs. the Boston Marathon


Well, everything I wanted to write about pales in comparison to Boston.  I was going to write about ending up winning my age group in the triathlon because I was the ONLY woman in my age group.  To remind us all to try, because you are a winner just for trying - sometimes literally.  I was going to write about feeling proud doing a 5k Sunday where I shaved 3 minutes off my first 5k time, and loving that some of my WLS support group came and did the fun walk, too.  Enough about that.

Instead I would like to talk about inspiration.  Goodness.  Humanity.  Faith.

..."So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear, or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think "the good outnumber you, and we always will." - Patton Oswalt

I had no idea who Patton Oswalt was before yesterday, but right now his thinking about this is right up there to me with Fred Roger's quote:

 "When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping."

In every horrible accident, or natural disaster, or act of terrorism you can look and see the good.  The people who run to help, who give of what they have to help others.  Who risk their lives.  Who make sacrifices, small and large.  These acts of bravery and humanity inspire me and others.  I love hearing about them and would like to use my blog today to talk about some of the ones I have heard about since the explosions in Boston. 

First - I have heard numerous complements of the first responders: the police, paramedics, and fire fighters. Numerous witnesses have said how quickly and smoothly they seemed to respond.  The policies, drills, and procedures that they and area hospitals have prepared for seem to have paid off. Bravo, and thank you to all first responders.  We are so thankful for your selflessness.

Second - All of the everyday people who ran to help others.  Carlos Arredondo, the father of a fallen soldier who was there to pass out flags ended up pinching an artery of a victim closed while she was evacuated.  The husband who ran into a clothing store and helped make tourniquets for two victims, only one of whom was his wife.  And yet another named "Matt" who did the same for a 17 year old girl.  Another person only known as "Sgt. Tyler" helped move and calm down another victim, showing her his own shrapnel scars to reassure her she could heal.  The little girl who decorated bags that her mom filled with food and toiletries with hopeful messages of love to hand out to people in need.  All the other un-named heroes who picked up and carried the wounded. The restaurant owners who opened their doors, grill, and refrigerators to the runners - not to mention making chargers and phones available so that they could contact their loved ones.  The neighbors along the route who took in runners and people from out of town, providing dry/ warm clothes and other necessities.  The runner and his wife, who upon seeing another racer sobbing on the ground in relief after locating her loved one by phone, asked "Did you finish?" and when she shook her head no, gave her his medal and said "You're a finisher to me".  The runners who continued running to get to the hospital and donate blood.  The Yankee fans who sang for Boston during the game last night. 

We are waiting to hear who is a suspect.  Are they American?  Why did they do this, what could their justification possibly be?  Did they act alone, or was this an attack planned by an organized group?

These are of course, important questions.  But where he or they come from is not as important as knowing that there are far more good people on earth, ready to help a stranger in need, than there are people who want to harm a stranger for whatever demented reason they can imagine. 

Three people have died, and that is a great tragedy.  So is the car bomb in Iraq yesterday that led to five people dying.  What is the difference?  Here in the United States we like to assume that we are safe from random acts of violence.  We have learned the phrase "see something - say something", so we assume that bombs will not explode next to us.  If we have drills, caring staff, and locked doors at our children's schools, we assume that school violence won't happen there.  The reality is that our society can never be 100% safe, no matter how many laws or how many guns there are.  And the bombs in Boston (like the murders in Newtown) shatter the illusion of safety, and require us to face that fact. Something that people in Iraq, Libya, Israel, and countless other countries around the world accepted long ago.  Does that make our tragedy in Boston worse than one in Iraq?  No, but it explains why one dominates our consciousness.

When tragedy occurs, I cling to two things.  One is a concept my husband taught me from computer/ IT security.  No system is impermeable, unhackable, or safe for all eternity.  As soon as you might declare something safe, it issues a challenge to anyone who wants to prove you wrong.  However, you can put up enough protection to block random pings, frustrate amateur hackers by making them jump through hoops and run into dead ends, and alert you to real threats - and that's probably the best thing.  The same thing applies to safety in the real world. 

The other is my faith.  My faith in humanity and kindness.  That people are naturally caring, helpful and responsible.  That for every evil committed there are hundreds if not thousands of kindnesses.  My faith in God means that I accept that I can't understand a reason why a sweet eight year old boy died along with two other innocent women in Boston; to me it doesn't mean that God wanted them to die.  It means that humans are intelligent (and sometimes crazy) beings with free will, which can include the will to commit murder.  But my faith in a higher power leads me to believe that something good will come out of this tragedy, which I may never personally know.  Maybe someone who did survive that horror will contribute to discovering the cure for cancer, or someone who watched the coverage will be inspired and find a way to restart the middle east peace process, or maybe someone will remember Martin Richard when they're driving and keep a close eye out for the kid who darts into the street so they can stop in time.  To me the goodness of humanity and God work together, helping us become better.  Not always good enough, but better.

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