WICKED/STRONG

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I cry easily. And, this week, there have been many opportunities for the waterworks to start. First, for the senseless loss of life and maiming of people in Boston at what is, normally, a time of celebration. Then, tears of admiration for the first responders who were running in to help when everyone else, so terrified, was running away. Next, there were tears for the way our nation rallied around the hurt and the heroes as billboards and signs on social networking sites shouted out BOSTON STRONG reminding us that it’s not only a description but a way of life for our brothers and sisters on the east coast of this great land. There were tears when Neil Diamond showed up at the Red Sox game to lead the crowd in singing SWEET CAROLINE, his hit, which has become the ball team’s theme song. There were tears, too, for the relentless work of law enforcement officials who worked so quickly and so tirelessly to bring the perpetrators in and the bravery they showed in a shootout which left one young terrorist dead and his brother wounded and on the loose for awhile longer. But not much longer. And, finally, there were even tears for those two brothers whose young lives have shattered and ended amidst so much tragedy and pain. How could they have gotten to that place where they thought murdering and maiming people was a good idea? It is hard to wrap my brain around this. And their message was…WHAT? That the older one didn’t have any American friends? That the younger one was about to flunk out of college? I DON’T GET IT. We can call them Muslim terrorists but, in truth, they are two young men, two screwed up young men, who performed an act of terrorism and who also happen to be Muslim. I don’t know very many Muslim people, but the ones I know don’t hate Americans. They are peaceful people who just want to live their lives and practice the faith they grew up with. I think we are wrong in, once again, assigning blame to the people of the Muslim faith for the crappy actions of a few. I mean, haven’t we had a barrel full of bad apples from the Christian faith? Jewish faith? Hindu faith? Others?
Some years ago, I chatted with an Ethiopian-born cab driver in Dallas. I asked him why he had come to America and become a US citizen. He said, “Remember that song, ‘We Are the World’ which came out in 1984? The money raised by that song saved my village. I began to think about how, whenever there is a true need in the world, America always steps forward to help. Other wealthy nations do not do this. Saudi Arabia doesn’t; Germany doesn’t; France doesn’t; Japan doesn’t. America ALWAYS does. I decided I wanted to be one of those people who always steps forward to help. That is why I became an American.” I forgot to ask him about his faith, but it really doesn’t matter to me. He’s an American who loves his county. Like me.
Earlier in the week, right after the tragedy, when we were emerging from the smokey residue of two bombs and the bloody miasma of wounds and terror, I was half-listening to somebody from Boston talking on one of the news shows. When he said the words, “THEY HAVE MESSED WITH THE WRONG CITY,” tears exploded out of me and I sank into the couch, heaving big, snot-laden sobs, my heart, all at once, both heavy with sadness and soaring with pride. “Yes, indeed, ” I thought, “indeed they have.” What happened in Boston – what those two young men did – was evil. It was wicked. But, we all know for sure now, if we didn’t know it before, just as the signs people held up at the Red Sox game said: BOSTON STRONG. WICKED STRONG. Boston will get through this. And so will we all.

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One thought on “WICKED/STRONG

  1. Eric

    As a transplant from the upper east side of the country, it was a disorienting week. We’re used to hearing about bombs going off and people dying, but that stuff happens in Iraq, or one of the ‘Stans, right? At no time in the past ten years have I received a message from a friend telling me they were in that spot for two hours, then took a break to go to Dunkin’ Donuts for some coffee. But for five minutes, she would have been right there. There are tens of thousands of stories just like that one from last Monday.

    More than a little disorienting, really.

    On the plus side, though, it reaffirms my faith in the positive aspects of a Dunkin’ addiction.

    The week also reaffirmed my faith in humanity, which is always a good thing. I had too many vicarious feet on the ground this week – another friend jolted awake by gunfire at the beginning of the chase, then locked inside all day waiting for the all clear. All in all, the chatter I heard more than any others was “find ’em and figure it out.” Not too many folks I knew close to the action were ready to leap to any easy conclusions about who coulda or why woulda; we all wanted to know, not speculate.

    Another friend of mine from way back when made a fairly useful observation at WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog: I was not there. But this story collapses space and time. Writing about this has been a helpful way of dealing with all these odd feelings, fears, and observations this event has stirred up.

    Baseball was a wonderfully cathartic way to cap the long week; seeing “Boston” on the uniforms melted me a little. Big Papi telling the world This is our f*cking city!

    Neil Diamond? Meh. Too bad the Standells weren’t available, or the Dropkick Murphys. (Now that would have been a singalong…)

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