Editor’s note: A version of this column ran on the author’s website April 15, 2013. For the original, click here.
I knew today was going to be an important day before it started—at least for me. It was the first day of spring break, and coming off a five-day conference/spiritwalk I had no plans on stopping.
On the work end, today was the day I planned on starting my blog. I’ve had a sort of vendetta against starting one since I thought the open accessibility meant the Internet was going to be full of idiots writing idiot things. But since I’ve started writing, I’ve realized that media credentials do not cure idiocy. Even at the highest level of journalism.
And having chosen to make a career in a field that (should) value honesty above all others, I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I get caught up in the media cycle of events. As a result, some of my passions and flag-waving over the years have dwindled. It happens to all of us.
But some events—the ones that connect with us, the ones that makes us think—“Wow, that could’ve been me.” —those are the events that make me want to get a flag tatted across my chest.
The Boston Marathon bombing is one of those events. It could’ve happened to me at any Laker, Dodger, or Niner game. Though after I first heard the news, my feelings were all buried under an intense, seething layer of frustration. I came to the realization that as humans, we are always going to do this to each other. We’ve been on this planet for thousands of years, evolving and ever changing, yet as a species we will never advance past our baser natures, even when the lives of many innocents are at stake. As we become more and more advanced, there is no evidence in the annals of our history to contradict the fact that we will kill this Earth long before it’s engulfed by our dying Sun in 4 billion years.
The frustration came not from this realization, but the fact that I can’t do anything to prevent this. What flag should I ink on the pecs? “Ban the Bombs 2013”?
As the day progressed and I had more time to process my thoughts, new perspectives helped me maintain. A friend mentioned that despite the tragedy of the events, if nothing else it brings us all back to reality.
We are no better than anyone else. We can all be touched by senseless violence and destruction in any country, at any time. When an isolated bombing by possible foreign terrorists can place such a sense of shock in me, I can only imagine how terrifying sanctioned, scheduled attacks can be to Middle Eastern civilians.
Secondly, a Patton Oswalt quote fleshed out my flag’s design.
“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,” Oswalt wrote on Facebook. “One of them is, every once in awhile, 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.”
While I still think it’s going to be that one idiot with some semblance of power and a stockpile of bombs who turns the planet into a permanent post-apocalypse movie (here’s looking at you Kim the Younger), I know I’m one of the good. I had to mediate one of the most difficult situations I’ve ever been in over the weekend, but that’s also helped me see how easy it is to do wrong and how important it is to do good.
I will embrace the good and the good people in my life. I will try to make them better. I will appreciate what I have, and I will not be complacent or lazy or ungrateful. I will live.
But right now, I’m going to pray, pour up, and pour one out for Boston. After writing this, the frustration is gone.
Now I’m just sad.