Help, Don’t Hide

Boston Marathon Bombing

By Ian Tingen

Boston.

The pictures are powerful, the video (WARNING: death in the video) even more so. If you haven’t seen them, I encourage you to take a look, but don’t linger – you only need a little exposure. Hold on to those images and feelings; we will come back to them in a moment.

The carnage documented above got the private and citizen journos roiling: the New York Post immediately speculated that a Saudi national in a hospital was a suspect, and there were the predictable calls to genocide on Twitter by people like Erik Rush. I’d link to Rush’s Twitter account, but as of 3:00 PST on the 15th, Twitter says it doesn’t exist. The Boston Police Department also says there have been no arrests made yet, so we will see if the Post story is anything more than yellow journalism. I’m sure some other schlock-jockey out there is noticing that the bombs went off the day taxes are due, and that this happened in Boston, so obviously it’s a right-wing domestic terrorist who has been Taxed Enough Already!

I don’t recommend blind speculation in times like these; I’m much more of an evidence-based speculation guy, anyway. I get it though – tilting at boogeymen is a soothing, gut-level reaction. Everyone looks for easy answers when we are terrorized. Even so, speculation has almost zero positive impact. It’s a waste of the emotional inertia that terror creates.

Terrorism is chaotic by nature. Its goal is to plant the seeds of psychological damage, often by wielding violence in places we expect none. We have all heard that ‘if we give in to fear, then the terrorists win’. While that’s true, we shouldn’t take it as an invitation to blunt all of our feelings, or to try to be logic machines. Logic can be an awkward force to harness, one that makes many assumptions about how people should think and react. Emotion, on the other hand, is a powerful motivator, specifically because it’s a predictable outcome in times like these. Most, if not all of us, will feel unwell in the aftermath of terror, and try to fix that feeling. The trick is realizing when you’re in that moment, and using it to fuel the more noble aspects of our nature.

It’s regular people, just like you, who helped fill blood banks to capacity, and who donated to relief organizations and charities. Even if you weren’t one of the people who ran towards the explosion to help strangers, you can still volunteer locally. There is plenty of good to do.

I opened this article with a request to expose yourself to some of the grim reality of the Boston bombings. The combination of horror, sadness, and anger evoked by the recordings is what whoever did this wants you to feel. That’s okay – doing so is a very human reaction. In response to those feelings, the bastard(s) responsible wants you to act like Erik Rush did: with fear, and fear-mongering. Don’t do it.

This is not the worst incidence of domestic terrorism in the US, nor will it be the last. Even so, we don’t need to be scared. In fact, with a little self-awareness, we can turn the weapons of terror into tools for the greater good. Choose to engage, rather than fear. Choose to help, rather than hide.

Don’t let them win.

 

Donate to the Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/index.jsp?donateStep=2&itemId=prod10001

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