Racing safely“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Fred Rogers
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Another tragedy has shaken our country. The Boston Marathon, an event that showcases the dedication and tenacity of 25,000 of the country’s best marathoners, ended in tragedy rather than celebration on Monday as two explosions killed three and hurt over 180 at the finish line.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching something like that unfold, but I’m convinced all Americans have experienced it. From John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the Oklahoma City bombing, we’ve all lived through an unspeakable national tragedy.
My first memory of such a tragic event was watching, over and over on TV, the planes crash into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was only 11 years old and didn’t really understand the gravity of the situation, but the memory of the universal response of anguish and shock has never left me.
There’s a hidden blessing to these tragedies, though: as common as they may feel, they are actually few and far between in our country. There are still regions of the world where car bombs, air strikes and IEDs are every day worries. We are lucky that these events still shock us.
Tragedies understandably scare us, too. Getting on a flight just after 9/11 must have been a terrifying experience and countless American parents kept their kids home from school in the days following the Newtown massacre. Empathy helps us relate to those affected by tragedies while simultaneously making us hyperaware of the dangers in the world.
I’m running the Gary Bjorklund half-marathon in June and I keep thinking of what it would feel like if, instead of heading to the beer tents to celebrate after finishing the race, I had to frantically call my friends and family members to make sure they hadn’t been hurt by an unexpected explosion.
While focusing on the loss of security we feel after a mass tragedy is natural, I saw a few bright spots in my Twitter feed on Monday. There were reports of runners finishing the marathon and heading directly to nearby hospitals to donate blood. The photos and videos from the finish line show dedicated emergency responders, not taking a moment to breathe, rushing the injured away from danger and escorting shocked runners to safety. Off-duty emergency personnel from around the city rushed to the scene to help.
I’m reminded of a favorite quote from Fred Rogers, the iconic children’s TV host: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
For each person in this world who will do something vicious, there are thousands who will be there to offer comfort and help. Hatred and evil will never disappear. However, it’s vital to recognize the normal people who unflinchingly assume heroic roles when these tragedies occur—and to be thankful that there is still so much goodness in the world.