Reflections on a Tragedy

I’ve seen a quote going around on social media:

If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathon runners are the wrong group to target.

Totally true, but I think it misses the point. We don’t know who perpetrated the bombings or why, but the marathoners were not the targets.

Terrorism is warfare on the psyche. The symbol, not the actual people, is the target. The bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma was an attack on a symbol of our federal government, the use of airplanes as guided missiles was an attack on symbols of capitalism and the U.S. military, and the use of two crude bombs was an attack on a symbol of celebration and peace.

It feels like we hear these stories quarterly, people are in a heightened state of alert for a couple weeks, and then everything dies down. We say we will “never forget” and eventually carry on. The carrying on is actually the defeat of terrorism.

A woman named Charlotte Holler was working in the Prudential Tower in downtown Boston on Monday. That must have been a bummer. I’ve never been to Boston, but I hear Patriots’ Day is quite the party. The party was ruined this year, but my bet is that the 2014 Boston Marathon will have more runners than the 2013 Boston Marathon.

When Ms. Holler heard the explosions, 9/11 was evoked:

Everyone is harkening back to 9/11. The priorities are: Where is my family? Where are my friends?

This should be the real lesson of all the tragedy we hear about in the news. On any given day, it can all be over at the hands of a wrong-way driver in San Antonio or a psychopath in Colorado or Connecticut.

Ambition is great, but it’s not what we’re going to think of when we hear the explosion and panic strikes. A person I respect has experience with a near-death situation and she always says:

Your tombstone will not say you were the best employee.

We forget that in the hustle. Ambition and achievement are great, but our relationships are what make life worth living.

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