I had planned to talk about my experiences at my first YardFest at Harvard in this post, but after today’s tragic events I want to offer my view, as it’s been a day that has caused me to pause and think.
As many of you may know, today’s Boston marathon was subject to a bomb attack, an attack that has so far claimed the lived of three innocent people and caused injury to over 140 others. Two bombs were detonated in quick succession among the thousands of supporters who had gathered at the finish to congratulate those who had completed the grueling test of endurance. Many of these participants were running in the name of charity, raising money for those less fortunate than themselves.
I myself found out the news whilst in the library. The way in which news spreads in events like these is phenomenal, and I was immediately reminded of the bombings of the London subway system on the 7th July 2005. At the time I myself was unsure for a while if my father, who at the time worked in London, was safe or not, and so today I immediately empathised with those who were unsure about the status of loved ones. My other feelings however were mixed. While I was appalled that something like this could happen, and horrified at the causing of unnecessary pain and suffering, I must confess that I was not surprised. It’s a sobering thought that this is the world that I, and those of my generation, have both grown up in and become accustomed to. For me, it feels as though these events have become more of a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, and this is something I have been struggling with since I heard the news.
We are certainly not the first to have experienced this, my own country was affected by attacks by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for a great number of years, but I guess what I’m feeling is that these events should be more shocking to me than today’s bombings were. We should not have to live in a world where such mindless violence has become not necessarily the norm, but so increasingly frequent.
It’s easy, because of the nature of attacks, to question our faith in humanity. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s at times like these, at times of such human cruelty, that if anything we should be reminded of how much greater human kindness and compassion can be. I have been so proud of the response of both the Harvard community and the community of Boston as a whole. Messages have come flooding in from everyone around campus from both students and faculty alike, expressing their condolences and support to anyone affected by the bombings, whether personally or not. I was amazing to hear one story of how some participants who, having already completed the 26.2 miles, carried on running to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood to help with those injured in the blasts. It is actions like these that I have taken great heart from today.
Although we seem to hear about events such as these occurring almost daily around the world, especially in areas of conflict, we only truly feel their affects when they hit us closer to home. Times like these are tough for everybody to comprehend, especially for those directly involved: my heart goes out to anyone who knew someone who was caught up in today’s tragedy, and I hope that you can draw strength from loved ones around you. Now is the time for all of us to remember what we have, hold it dear, and use it to grow closer together as a community. Now is the time to think about the tremendous acts of good that come from the many as a result of the terrible acts of the few, and focus solely on these. Despite the increased frequency of these types of attacks, it is from the consequent feats of altruism that we can draw both strength and faith in humankind.
May the light they bring outshine the darkness.
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