COMMENTARY | We’ve been through a lot in recent months as a country. We saw Hurricane Sandy crush the East Coast with all of nature’s fury; we watched in shock and total heartbreak as 20 children and six adults were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
And now Boston.
I’ve never seen the iconic Boston marathon, but I cheer the runners on every year here in Chicago, and the most amazing part is the tangible spirit that you feel. There’s the determination of the runners. And then there’s the crowd, completely diverse, all there to give encouragement to other human beings. It’s amazing.
And it’s been torn to shreds. Decimated.
I can’t imagine any marathon will ever be the same after Boston, and what sickens me is that somewhere, someone is proud of that fact.
So this is what I ask of everyone who calls this country home: Can we please not turn this horrific event into a never-ending game of pass-the-buck? Can we please not blame the This Group and The That Group and the This Party and the That Party and the Blue Streaks and the Red Streaks?
Can we all just be Americans? Mourning, finding the perpetrators? And not taking to Sunday morning political chat shows to blame the person you would have criticized without this tragedy?
We have gone through so much, and yet these awful events are used as a wedge to drive us even further apart. Even the facts differ depending on your point of view or your ideology.
But this was a marathon. It was people from all over the world here either to compete or to prove something to themselves. And it was people standing along the route, holding signs, clapping until their hands were raw, cheering until they had no voices left to cheer.
That’s who we need to be at times like this. Not finger-pointers. We need to be runners on the same quest, even at different speeds. We need to be the people on the sidelines cheering them on.
We don’t know yet who was behind the attack. It could be a foreign group; and worse than that, it could be some of our own. That’s where the endless vilification gets us. To the point where we couldn’t affirmatively say that an American wouldn’t do this to another American.
To the point where an American might do this to another American.
That, if you recall, was the great shock of the Oklahoma City bombings. It wasn’t a threat from abroad, it was a very real threat from our own backyard.
Most of us are leagues away from that kind of division, but that’s where we’re heading if we don’t put out the bridge.
With everything and everyone those explosions in Boston took, let’s not allow it to take that spirit of the marathon. Let’s keep it, nurture it. Let it be our guide in the coming confusing, difficult days.
In that spirit, let’s allow the Boston Marathon to be the tragedy that finally unites us as a nation. We stand so much better together than we do alone.