I fucking hate terrorism. I know, bold statement, right? But here's the thing about terrorism: It's not about the people who are killed. The people who are killed -- human beings, with lives and friends and families and futures -- are merely tools to accomplish a larger goal, which is to control entire populations of people through fear. People die and suffer not for anything they did or even anything they're accused of doing but because their death is an expeditious means to an end. That makes me indescribably angry.
I have a thing about fear. Maybe I have an unusually high pain tolerance, maybe I just lack an appropriate amount of respect for my physical being, but I can handle a tremendous amount of physical pain in a way that I can't handle fear and anxiety. The Boy, an individual has amount of experience with pain, says that while a person can be inured to pain, there's really no way to become inured to fear -- you either get over it and don't have it anymore, or you work through it, but there's no real point at which you get used to fear and don't notice it anymore. Pain can itself be scary, but eventually it's over, one way or another; fear can last as long as you do.
Right now, there are three people dead in Boston -- one an eight-year-old boy whose dad had just run the marathon. Three families are dealing with that loss. Nearly 200 people are injured, including countless traumatic amputations and a two-year-old with a serious head injury. And millions of people are terrified, because they've been reminded that we live in a world where things like this happen and there's no preparation for it -- there's no trying to guess which dates are significant enough that some evil person might try to use them to make a statement. There's no trying to guess which gathering might be a target, which flight. There's no way of knowing when or whether they'll start targeting individuals as soon as they have us scared enough to stop gathering in public. There's no trying to guess, and that's the point. It's not to make us dead; it's to make us scared. It's to keep us scared, to remind us every time we start to feel comfortable opening our front door that the world is a terrifying place and the only answer is to stay trembling and obedient. It's to make us look over our shoulders, to distrust our neighbors, to round up all the brown people first just to be on the safe side. Millions of people in the U.S. remain or have become scared now, along with millions of people around the world who feel the same feelings from the same sources caused by different groups and individuals, all for the same reason: No good reason, because there's no fucking good reason.
I don't care who did this or why. I don't care. The question everyone asks after things like this is Why? Why, God, why, and the only answer is Because. Not Because marathon runners are sinful. Not Because someone has a vendetta against your eight-year-old. Just Because someone wants everyone to be scared, and your loved ones were conveniently located.
Because someone wants everyone to be scared. Someone is hurt and angry and taking it out on the world not through pain but through fear. And maybe the hurt and anger are perfectly justified, and maybe in a different situation I would have even cared enough to sit down and talk about it and do something about it. But now, and probably forever after now, I couldn't give less of a shit. No shits are given.
Ultimately, of course, the who and the why do have larger implications. Eventually, we will find out who was responsible, and we'll probably have some idea of why, and action may or may not come of it, and if action comes it may or may not be the right action to take. But to the people who are hurt and grieving and scared right now, that's probably not going to help much, because there's no why that can justify what was done. The why will be bullshit. The why is always bullshit.
That's not the world I want to live in.
This is the world I want to live in:
Marathon spectators. Friends and loved ones. And complete strangers, too. People whose sole goal in life, for that one day, was to stand next to the road and be encouraging to people they've never even met and will probably never see again.
Marathon runners who were exhausted at the end of 26.2 miles but kept running, straight to the nearest hospital to donate blood for the hundreds of people who'd lost theirs.
People who heard explosions and made the absurd decision to run toward the smoke and fire, because others needed help.
People who opened their homes to complete strangers who'd come in from out of town for the race and wouldn't be able to get back home that night.
My condolences go out to the victims of the bombings, to their families, to Bostonians and former Bostonians who are trying to sort out what happened in their city, and to everyone who has been traumatized or re-traumatized by this senseless violation. If I had anything more substantial to offer than "that really sucks," I would offer it. But failing that... that really sucks. I’m so, so sorry.