Where to begin again?

Hello again! It’s been months of procrastinating, neglect, negligent slackerdom. I could name 70 more adjectives for my writing dodge but it all boiled down to a firm belief that I had absolutely NOTHING to say. Massive writer’s block.

Much has happened to shake me out of my grotto of navel gazing. I live close to Boston. The past week was the most unbelievable week I’ve ever experienced. I still can’t believe that there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon, that 4 people were killed–a child, a 23 year-old Chinese student, a 29 year old woman who cheers at the finish line every year, and one MIT police officer. So far, at least fifteen people have lost at least one limb, one MBTA transit police officer nearly bled out from his gunshot wound that severed his femoral artery and almost died and over 180 people were injured. Two brothers, at this point believed to have acted alone, are believed to be responsible.

The amount of information coming out about these two: who they were, where they’re from, their influences, their childhood, school, college, religion, family, travel, friends…is pouring through the media but I have no idea when we will get to WHY. I don’t know if we ever will to the level of comprehension, satisfaction that we understand the trajectory of the actions that affected hundreds of thousands.

The reaction of the people of Boston and surrounding cities was incredible. Images of police officers, race officials, runners and spectators running toward the explosions to help the injured were awe inspiring. The shocking reality of the scope and depth of the damage did not cause people to cower or shy away. They are strong. They continued, they didn’t turn on each other or shutter doors and window. To repeat a great quote paraphrased for Boston, “Keep wicked calm and carry the hell on.”

In the shock and aftermath of the bombing, local and state police and FBI did their work. In this day of instant information, one of the most difficult things was not waiting for information, it was weeding out rumors, lies, false information. There were times I had to turn off the radio and get off Facebook and I heard that from many others around me. The frantic tension that I might miss crucial information interfered with a reality that if any major breaks in the investigation happened, I would quickly find out.

Nothing prepared me for early Friday morning when my sister, traveling from Florida texted  “What’s going on in Boston?” Boston proper, Watertown, Cambridge, Waltham, Newton, Belmont and Brookline were effectively shut down. Residents were ordered to shelter in place as rifle-armed police officers patrolled the streets in search for two brothers. Suspect Number Two, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, age 19, after a massive shoot-out in Watertown where Suspect Number One, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, age 26 was killed when his brother ran over him with a stolen SUV was on the run. I kept saying, “This is unbelievable, I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.” as the news came in.

After nearly twenty four hours, Suspect Number Two was captured alive. He was hiding under a shrink-wrapped boat in Watertown, just a couple of blocks outside the police perimeter, discovered by the boat’s owner who walked outside after the lock-down and saw some blood on the white wrap and a hole in the side that wasn’t there the day before.

There is so much to process about this incredible week. Sorrow, loss, injury and injustice inflicted upon people who began their Patriots Day ready to run, cheer, root for the Red Sox, eat, laugh, help, be part of something bigger than themselves that has taken place for 116 years prior to this particular marathon day. The actions of those who ran in to help, to save, to protect, to act in ways far greater than their own self-interest. There are the citizens to thank who did exactly what was asked of them–huddle down in their houses to let the police work.

Ultimately all of this revolves around two men who acted upon hateful, deadly, destructive principles that brought them entitlement to kill, a disregard for life in a country that sheltered, educated and provided unlimited opportunity. I have no idea how I’m going to get my mind around that.

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About EF Sweetman

bees, baseball, beverly, ma, culture, manners, society, writing
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8 Responses to Where to begin again?

  1. Welcome back Liz 🙂 Yes, it was a truly tragic week for your area. As a teenage runner many decades ago, my ultimate dream was to someday run Boston. It’s terribly sad that it will take decades more for me to now not equate the Boston Marathon with the terrible events of last week. I will however have a forever positive and uplifted view of the people of the Boston area for the way that they responded to this tragedy. They showed all of us, and reminded many of us, what is truly great about this country. Here’s to hoping that next years race week is the best ever! 🙂

  2. Mick Feeble says:

    The hardest part for me to understand is how the brothers came to believe that what they were doing was right. When someone acts out of a religious passion, it is generally from a place of deep beliefs that one is doing the right thing. And obviously, killing people is never the right thing. I can imagine that there have been countless occasions when the US military or that of other Western nations have taken actions that resulted in the death of many innocent civilians. We subjectively are inclined to ask an especially emphatic “Why?” when it happens to our innocent civilians, on our land. And there’s certainly an important distinction between an errant bomb that accidentally harms civilians versus an intentionally placed bomb specifically intended to harm civilians – at least at the level of individual actions, it’s easy to lay more blame in one case, and less in another case. But if we take the camera out to the wide angle, looking at the ideological differences of entire peoples and ways of life, the respective losses of life appear sadly similar. In both cases, an ideological difference justifies actions that result in loss of innocent lives. The question I have is why we can’t all just get along? It’s such an obvious question, it sounds silly. We are all fundamentally the same. We are all humans. We all want to live. We all want the freedom to pursue *our* beliefs, whatever those beliefs are. It seems like there should be a way to achieve that without denying others the pursuit of their way of life at the same time.

    • EF Sweetman says:

      Thank you for your insights, there is perspective and a much broader picture which I believe is so important in trying to figure out a way, if ever possible, to prevent future actions. I too believe if those who would inflict violence were able to see the human suffering prior to acting, we’d be living in a different world.

  3. I think this was a pretty amazing return to blogging. I’m glad you and your family were safe. Quite the week, huh? My sister lives in Watertown which just added to the fun (NOT).

  4. chlost says:

    Glad you’re back. What a week. Hope things start to feel a bit more normal soon.

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