I grew up in a small Southern New Hampshire town about 45 minutes from Boston, MA. Growing up, I would travel with my family into Boston often, whether for a day trip to the Children’s Museum, the Aquarium, or just to get a cannoli in the North End. In college in NY, many fellow students couldn’t even place NH on the map, so I got used to saying that I was from the Boston area. And to celebrate my impending marriage, I chose Boston as the city I wanted to say goodbye to my single life in. I may have never had an address there, but to me, Boston is home.
On Monday, that home was hit with unthinkable terror and tragedy. I spent much of the time after 2:50pm trying to track down family, friends, and acquaintances who I knew were in the city for the marathon, or the baseball game, or who just lived or worked in Boston. Thankfully, all are safe and accounted for, though many others were not so lucky.
In the next days, weeks, and months we will get more information on the who, what, why, and how. In the first moments of the news, I asked myself; who would do such a thing, what is wrong with the world, why is there so much hatred, how will we make things better?
I don’t know any of the answers to those questions, except maybe the last one.
Boston is sometimes perceived as a rude, unfriendly place. While I will freely admit to having often uttered “Masshole” while sharing the road with many a Bay Stater who thought that blinkers and red lights were for wusses, the spirit of those yesterday who sprang to action shows what a gross mis-characterization this is, as well as offers us at least one answer:
How we will make things better? We will help.
There are so many stories of people helping yesterday, it fills my heart and soul, and repairs the cracks in my faith in humanity. Stories of first responders and general citizens running towards the blasts are heroic and courageous, but so are the stories of exhausted marathoners continuing to run to area hospitals to donate blood. Stories of Bostonians opening their homes and businesses to stranded runners to offer food , water, and shelter. Stories of those who helped usher spectators to safety. Those who helped others find and reunite with loved ones, or helped to pass on the word that friends and loved ones were safe. Or simply the stories of strangers offering each other a hug or a shoulder to cry on.
We don’t need to perform acts of heroism to be a helper and make this world better.
The next time you see an elderly person who looks lost finding their car in the parking lot; help.
The next time the person in front of you at the coffee shop is short on change; help.
The next time a mom is having a doozy of a time wrangling her toddler and her groceries into the car; help.
The next time you see someone who is hungry or thirsty; help.
The next time you see someone crying or hurt or in need of another human being; help
What happened was tragic and we may never understand the reason why. But how we move forward is by helping each other. It is who we are.