While I feel uncertain what exactly to say about yesterday's bombing at the Boston Marathon, it also feels inappropriate to me to write about anything else just yet. I studied and worked in Boston, lived there for many years, and I may no longer be a physical part of that community, but in many other ways, I still am. I have many friends in Boston, both those I met there and some whom I know from back in high school, who later moved there. I knew people running the marathon, spending the day cheering others on, or even simply stopping by after work – right when the unimaginable happened.
Personally, I found out about the explosions near the finish line via the radio while on my way home. I didn't know what to think, but I did know that certain friends had recently been training for the marathon. Immediately, I, like many, spent time Facebook stalking, g-chatting, texting, calling, etc. – reaching out first to those I knew had a high probability of being nearby, and then to everyone else. Some friends I instructed to post publicly about their welfare as soon as they had a chance, because in that moment of public panic that spread around our worldwide network, literally the fastest way to check on someone's welfare was monitoring when their last post happened (on Facebook, Twitter, or otherwise), or by quickly checking in through a chat mechanism. Some others had heard sooner, and assured me that all of our mutual friends & acquaintances had already been tracked down and were safe.
I spent hours watching news broadcasts recapping over and over the same statements about the event, slipping nuggets of new information among the recitations, and then hours more monitoring "breaking news" sources online. Along the way, I saw heartbreaking photos and personal accounts, comforting stories of heroes at the scene, and unfortunately, many judgmental and angry responses – anger not at the attacker, but at those of us devastated by this attack.
The Boston Marathon is an international, apolitical event, and an attack on its spectators is nothing but a malicious attempt to instill fear, while irrevocably harming innocent bystanders. We are all lost in the wake of this nonsensical tragedy, horrified by the lives lost and the physical and emotional damage caused, with no understanding, and that, I believe, strikes more fear in all of us. This is terrorism, not because of some (unclear) political agenda, but because of the lives ruined, thousands or millions more affected, all for the exclusive purpose of just that – terrorizing a widespread community by causing the most damage at a time when traditionally thousands come together in celebration.
One news source called this an echo of the September 11 attacks. I can only hope this is the final ripple in the years since then which have been filled with terror. Pragmatically, I fear that's unlikely to be the case.