We awoke on Tuesday to yet another tragic morning-after.
As was the case Sept. 12, 2001, many of us woke up wondering how anybody — whether a lone deranged individual or some demented group of sociopaths — could carry out a plan to hurt and kill so many innocent civilians. These types of events test our faith in humanity and the capacity for goodwill.
As has become the norm, social media sites became a sounding board on Monday for people to release the anger and sadness that accompanies tragic events of this magnitude. A quick scroll through Twitter or Facebook revealed the entire spectrum of human emotion. Misplaced rage at groups assumed to be responsible. Despair at the thought that another member of our species could so callously target unsuspecting bystanders with the intent to wound, maim and kill.
But there was also hope.
There were stories of runners who finished the race and kept running directly to the Red Cross to donate blood. There were videos of people who, immediately following the twin blasts, chose to run toward the danger instead of away just so they could tend to the wounded.
Within hours of the attack a Google document sprung up with hundreds upon hundreds of listings from the brave people of Boston offering beds for displaced runners and rides for those who needed them.
And then there is the story of 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, who was only feet from the finish line when the bomb blasts went off. He was knocked to the ground and sat dazed for a moment before getting up and finishing the race, telling ABC News “I thought it was my last trip.”
Numerous mini-movements have been born out of this tragedy, among them a group encouraging runners across the country to run 2.62 miles, in honor of the 26.2 miles run by the marathoners. Another group is planning to wear blue and yellow, the unofficial colors of the Boston marathon, in an effort to support those affected by the disaster.
One of the most popular things tweeted, liked and shared yesterday on social media was a quote from the late Fred Rogers, of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” fame, saying “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 helping.’”
The city of Boston, and the nation as a whole, still needs time to mourn, both for those killed and wounded and also for our fragile sense of security that was shattered Monday. But we can find solace in the fact that no matter how horrific an event like this may seem, the aftermath is always filled with stories of hope and redemption.
Comedian Patton Oswalt put it best in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, saying “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.’”