Tragedy and a Lesson in Moving On — The Boston Marathon Bombings

Me in 2005 at Robarts Library. What you CAN'T see? My afro!
The now-famous video frame that shows one of the bombs detonating at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Source: Stringer/Reuters

What do we do in the face of tragedy? Do we stop everything we do to remember the victims, or do we work even harder to honour them?

The answer, it turns out, isn’t so simple.

Do We Move On or Do We Remember?

Ever since the Boston Marathon bombings a few days back, I haven’t been overly keen to blog. I’d written a post about blogging — about how people choose to sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to blogging and why they needed to change the entire idea of how we blog. I’d actually written all weekend, on topics like my February trip to Las Vegas, a look at the future, and a number of the events I’ve been to as of late.

But none of it felt right. None of it felt like the stuff I should be blogging about, considering that others had it so much worse off than I did. It felt — empty, maybe. Like the things I planned to blog about didn’t hold enough meaning to share them with others. Much of what I’d planned to blog about suddenly felt tasteless. The things I was passionate about moments before didn’t interest me anymore.

And so, I slowed down for a bit. For the second time in as many weeks, I found myself in a state of self-analysis, trying to figure out why it is that I do what I do.

We all respond to tragedies in different ways. Some of us internalize that pain, empathize and cope with it by ourselves. Some of us work hard to prove that we’re still alive and won’t let the ills of the world get us down. There’re any of a multitude of coping mechanisms we use to try to get past acts like this, but there’s something it gives you, if even for the briefest of moments — perspective. A tragedy like this gives everyone the chance to reflect on what’s actually important.

Problems Without Solutions

I’m a problem solver — I like to look at a situation and try to figure out what the best possible outcome is, and I’ve gotten pretty decent at it. But the problems that really matter in this world are bigger than any one person: hunger, greed, war, disease, violence… it feels at times like the world is sinking and there’s no purchase for us to climb out of the pit.

I’m a problem solver. When someone has an issue come up in their lives, my first reaction is to try to come up with a solution (much to Sarah’s chagrin when she just wants to vent). My brain works a mile a minute, trying to connect dots and figure out what I can do to make things better.

But some problems are too big to easily find their solutions. Things like war, hunger, poverty — or yes, senseless acts of violence — are things that have been around for generations, and one should not expect to find a solution for them overnight. We can share ideas, volunteer and donate — but many of these are Band-Aid solutions that don’t address the real issues that allow these things to keep happening:

Ourselves and our attitudes toward the world we live in.

So I took to my notebook and tried to rationalize what was going on. I started writing what you’re reading now — what the things I’ve seen and read about these past few days has me thinking about. Processing the negative and trying to turn it into something positive. Something to make this world a little better — even if only for a moment.

Pulling the Band-Aid Off

In the end, I decided it was due time to get back to the grind and do what I do best. We can’t stop our lives for every tragedy that happens or we’d never get anything done. At the same time, we should never forget that these tragedies happened, nor forget the victims that endured them. The world’s a big place — and it’s not all good. Many of us are simply going through the motions day by day as we try to make sense of it all and find our place. And while we still need to solve the equation for world peace, what I do know is this — we won’t find it without waking up, caring a little more about each other, and choosing more actions that benefit our communities and not just ourselves.

From ABC News: “A runner tapes a sign combining a Boston Red Sox logo with a yellow ribbon on a corner street post where Massachusetts Street intersects another roadway, April 15, 2013, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)”

Make the world you want to live in.

–case p.

Author: Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Casey‘s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff. When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him. Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

9 thoughts on “Tragedy and a Lesson in Moving On — The Boston Marathon Bombings”

  1. The Boston Bombing both destroyed and restored my faith in humanity.
    I will never understand such senseless acts of violence. Why the need to hurt people? Things like this always make me hate people.
    If you senselessly hurt/kill People, children, animals anywhere in the world you are a the scum of of the earth.

    But then, there are the people who don’t let the perpetrators of such acts define them or stop them. They just keep moving forward, living their lives trying to do / be better. Let’s not forget the volunteers, other runners, military and first responders that ran to wards the chaos and bomb blasts to help those in need!

    This is how WE HAVE TO think of it. We need to be strong for those who can’t and we just need to do / be better.
    Keep up the awesome that is you! xoxo

    1. That’s precisely it, Christine — you summed it up best: “we need to be strong for those who can’t”. It saddens me that we need events like this to wake people up and get them to stretch out a hand to help their fellow humans, but I’m still glad to see that compassion happen when it does.

      If I had all the time in the world, I’d read every essay, every book, every THOUGHT on the tragedies that have happened in the past, and use all of that data to come up with a reason why we seem to keep on hurting each other.

      For the meantime, I’m going to keep doing what I do. Help friends out, do more to help strangers I come across, and just try to keep positive — the world already has enough negativity in it as it is.

  2. Great post Casey! As horrible as these events are, we need to keep moving forward, learning from them so that we can become better as we mentioned. I definitely agree that we need to be less selfish and think about how the things we do can affect those around us.

    Oh, and I am exactly like you with the problem solver thing. I suck at listening to Amanda vent and am always trying to come up with a solution. 🙂

    1. Heh. I’ve definitely improved at just sitting and listening — it’s far better to just lend an ear and offer advice if ASKED than it is to make an unsolicited interjection and make the situation worse!

      And yeah, it’s not the time to sit around being sad — I didn’t lose anyone in the bombings. I’m sad that it happened, but sitting around sad won’t get anything done. If I want a better world, I need to work at it. That’s the simple fact of the matter.

      Glad you enjoyed the post, sir — hope to keep up the quality level as I work through a few more ideas to come!

  3. Love the post Casey,
    It seems sometimes our best moments as human beings come out or through devastating events. Our humanity should be shared always. It doesn’t cost a red cent to be kind, caring or compassionate and you are all those things. Congrats!

    1. Thanks for the kinds words, Chris 🙂

      In my mind, I imagine a world where we NATURALLY act kind to one another, but that’s a complex equation that I haven’t solved QUITE yet 😉 (Though I think I’ll be doing quite a bit of data analysis in the coming years — I have a post coming up about it next week!)

      I think it would be the most interesting if someone could come up with a clear way to show the UNDENIABLE benefits of being kind, rather than it just end up being a “nice thing that people COULD do”.

      One day, these dreams shall become reality 🙂 One day.

  4. Interesting post! I hadn’t thought about it before, but between Boston and the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, that could be why I just couldn’t figure out what I really need to accomplish yesterday. Half my brain was probably out to lunch.

    1. Hey Angelique,
      It happened to all of us I’m sure. We’re all just reliving the violence and the emotions because the news won’t let us get a way from it. It’s everywhere. I bet all of North America was zombified yesterday.
      Hope you’re back to your normal seft!

      Christine ( @Wedding_crasher)

    2. Christine’s got it right, Angelique — I think it hit many of us like a shockwave. It wasn’t an individual event like a shooting. No one associates runners with being bad people — it was like hearing that something horrible had happened to your next-door neighbour because EVERYONE can relate to a runner. Most people have run at SOME time in their lives.

      The road to recovery will be different for everyone, but my fingers are crossed that we all get there.

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