I thought this short post from Patton Oswald on the Boston Marathon bombings managed to sum up both the sadness and resolve that I was feeling. Judging from the reaction on Tweeter, thousands of others thought so as well,
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
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.”
There are probably thousands of appropriate reactions. Here are some examples of how not to react. The 8 Worst Responses To The Boston Marathon Bombings
GEORGE BUSH KEPT US SAFE FOR 8 YEARSAND ONCE AGAIN @barackobama FAILS AS TERRORISTS BOMB BOSTON MARATHON….
— Patrick Dollard (@PatDollard) April 15, 2013
While I tend to think having a rich fantasy life is not only a positive human attribute, it may be necessary to keep from slipping from the everyday crazy of just being alive into the abyss of insanity; I stop short of endorsing living one’s life in the dank recesses of zealotry fueled delusions. Perhaps dealing with the sheer volume of the body count is too much for Pat’s fragile psyche, but Bush’s presidency was like a mini Black Plaque of American terror victims, served up by conservative lies, disinformation and lack of basic moral principals. The physically wounded and maimed, along with those with the psychological scars will be testament to that for years.
And lastly Bruce Schneier’s insightful, and calm essay for The Atlantic, The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On.
As the details about the bombings in Boston unfold, it’d be easy to be scared. It’d be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something — anything — to keep us safe.
It’d be easy, but it’d be wrong. We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators’ hands — and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don’t have to be scared, and we’re not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there’s one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.
It’s hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people — far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random — in this case involving an innocent child — senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.
But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event. That’s the very definition of news: something that is unusual — in this case, something that almost never happens.
Remember after 9/11 when people predicted we’d see these sorts of attacks every few months? That never happened, and it wasn’t because the TSA confiscated knives and snow globes at airports.
Imagine if after 9-11 Bush and the conservative movement had decided to view that particular brand of terrorism as a small cancerous tumor. Instead of sending American troops en masse, he used the CIA and special forces like a laser to methodically cut out the cancer. They didn’t do that because they panicked and because they wanted to exploit the situation for political leverage.