My thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings

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When I first started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t get into any political issues on it.  I actually love discussing politics and current events, but in this space, I want to help people regardless of their political views.

However, this blog means a lot to me personally, and I have poured a lot of my heart and soul into it.  At this point I don’t feel it would be authentic for me to go forward without sharing with you all the things that have been filling my heart and mind for the past week.

I am a Massachusetts girl, and have been for all of my life.  The majority of my family is here; my friends are here; everything is here.  I don’t even like baseball, but I know what David Ortiz meant when he said, “This is our fucking city.”  If you have spent time in Boston, you know it, too.

My cousin ran the Marathon on Monday.  He was being sponsored by his employer, and was raising money for charity.  My aunt and my uncle came up from Delaware to watch, and the whole family was watching in Brighton when he passed by.

The explosions happened about a half hour later.  My cousin was unhurt, but he only crossed the finish line about a minute before the first one went off.  If you’ve watched news coverage of the explosions, you know that means that if he had been only a minute slower, he would probably have been hurt.

The thing is, it almost doesn’t matter that everyone close to me was okay.  I have never experienced another tragedy like this, but when it happens in your city it is somehow different from hearing it on the news.  When it happens far away, it’s more abstract.  You know it’s horrible, but, at least for me, it takes actually turning on the news, or seeing the newspaper, and seeing pictures of the victims and people mourning to make me cry.

Not when it’s in your own backyard.  I didn’t need to turn on the TV, or see images of anyone, for it to feel like a part of me had been attacked.

I know New Englanders have a reputation for being a bit cold, compared to people from other parts of the country.  And I will be the first to admit, we don’t seem very friendly when we’re behind the wheel of a car.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t have an unspoken bond.  I didn’t need to see the faces of the victims, or learn their names, to feel as though people I cared about had been hurt.   When I heard the news I immediately went to turn on the TV, but I was already shaking and crying.

There has been an amazing outpouring of support for Boston from all over the world.   A million gestures of kindness from people in all parts of the globe have meant more to us here than I can convey.

But there has also been something uglier that has emerged in the past few days, something that has made it a little harder to move forward with the healing process.

What I’m referring to here is the bizarre backlash that has occurred against the way Boston handled this situation, amongst people who don’t even live in Massachusetts.  Various bloggers and Internet pundits from other states and countries have published articles criticizing the people of Boston for “cowering” in their homes during Friday’s “lockdown.”  They’ve criticized our law enforcement and government officials, and some have even gone so far to see this situation as a big conspiracy theory.

Now I don’t know if this means I’m spending too much time on the Internet, or what.  People here are being nothing but kind to each other.  We all know that it could have been worse, that it could have gone on for a lot longer.  I think many of us expected to be living in fear for months.

But I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.  At this point it’s a pretty unanimous conversation among my Boston-area friends.  Why are people who’ve probably never even been to Boston freaking out about what happened here and claiming they know more about it than we do?

Of course, my frustration isn’t directed at any of my blog followers.  You are all a bunch of really smart people, and I have been grateful for your support.  I would, however, like to enlist you in my fight against misinformation.  I don’t want this narrative of Bostonians “cowering” in their homes to spread.  So here, instead, is a collection of things I want you to know.

Thoughtful posts reflecting on the experience of the past week:

The Boston spirit:

On people who feel the need to compare Boston to other tragedies:

On the criticism of the Boston lockdown:

Thank you to everyone who has written these amazing posts.  We are in this together.  And thank you to Pete Tschudy for the above picture.


11 thoughts on “My thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings

  1. I know what you mean about feeling distanced from national tragedies. I’ve been meaning to write on the elementary school shooting. I had to dig through the internet for the most gruesome, awful things, just trying to feel something about it because you have to, don’t you?

    But when the explosion in West, Texas happened, the news alone was enough to make my heart burst. I cried at work. My family and friends are alright, but I have too many friends of friends that have lost homes. Plus, there are my “stranger loved ones.” People at the Czech Stop and Sykora Ford who I always said hi to. It’s the little Czech town in Texas and my only real connection to my culture – I know what you mean about feeling attacked – and this was an accident!

    Anyway. Waxing poetic! Thank you for writing so well about a feeling that is so hard to articulate.

    1. You’re welcome, and thanks for letting me know my words resonated. I know what you mean about feeling like “you have to feel something” about a far-away tragedy. Of course, the reality will sink in once you leave the news on for a few minutes, but it really is different when it happens in a place you can picture, to people you can picture.

      I’m glad your friends and family in West are okay. That whole story was just awful.

  2. I guess I missed the “bad press”! I don’t know much, but I’ve seen nothing but wonderful people and good safety practices to stay inside with a dangerous criminal on the loose. Our family is partial to the New England states and we’ve been many times. We’ve never felt people were “cold”, actually we’ve always felt it is a “warm” environment. Congratulations for all those attending the Boston Marathon, they are health conscious people from around the world. It had a sad ending, but I see Bostonians rallying back quickly! Hope your entire family is safe. Take care and stay safe.

    1. Thanks Edie! I don’t really know why people think of New Englanders as cold, either. I always just figured that was because I’m used to it, so I’m glad to hear you’re on the same page.

      And I will say that the majority of the media coverage of this situation has been great. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the mainstream media, but in this case I thought most journalists handled this very well and struck the appropriate tone. There were just a few exceptions that really stood out, in particular one article from the New Yorker which I found quite offensive.

  3. Great post! I’ve only been to Boston once in my life, but even for me it was unreal to see footage from the bombing site, I can only imagine how awful and unsettling it must have been for those with personal connections to the city. Thanks for the couple of links you shared, we’ve been discussing a few issues addressed in the articles in a course I’m taking currently and they shed an interesting perspective (as does your own post).

  4. How did I not know that you are also a local? Great, great post. I actually got so angry at somebody on Facebook the other night for posting that damn conspiracy theory video floating around, that I defriended them on the spot. Perhaps a bit of an extreme reaction on my part, but I am horrified that people buy into that and pass it around. Thank you for addressing this! I am so glad to hear that your family is ok. Maybe I’m biased, but I think Boston (and the surrounding communities) kicked ass on Friday!

    1. Haha… you didn’t know because up until right now, I’d been careful to never mention anything about my geographic location. I’ve been easing myself into this whole Internet thing slowly. But the events of last week certainly put everything into a different perspective, as I’m sure you know.

      And yes, Boston certainly did kick ass. I wish people in other parts of the country could understand how proud we are right now. It’s strange how some are getting so angry on our behalf about the loss in productivity and how we weren’t “allowed” to go to work, when most of us would have written a large personal check in order to see this situation resolved as quickly as possible.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly. Everybody who was at work was glued to a TV or the internet anyways. People just love to Monday morning quarterback. Bottom line is: within 4 days, there was viable evidence to release pics of suspects and 24 hours later 1 was in custody. Pretty amazing in the crime solving world!

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