Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Strength of the Human "Race"

As a runner, you believe that your sport is inherently safe. Certainly, even when you are road running and considering whether that car making a left turn is going to see you at the last possible moment or trail running  and dodging tree roots and slippery rocks on a single trail at the top of ravine where there is nowhere to go but down.  Those are the known risks you take when you decide to put on your sneakers and leave the safety of your home. Those are variables we respect and measure against our desire to run.

What no one expects is the unexpected.

I was sickened, shocked, and actually speechless for some time yesterday after hearing and then watching the events at the Boston Marathon. Those most directly affected by the bombings were not the runners themselves but family, friends, and fans of the sport. They were lined up cheering on the runners towards the end of the marathon.  I don’t believe the runners were the targets. I believe the crowds were. This wasn’t the Boston Marathon under attack. It simply served as a target event where people freely mill about and no one has to go through gates or security protocols.

As I continued to watch footage of the immediate aftermath of the bombings I did remark about two things. First, it was perhaps divine intervention that medical personnel were so close to the victims. At no other point in the marathon would there be so many emergency medical staff in one area at one time. I’m quite sure that had an immediate effect on the possible death toll.

Second, the ratio of people who darted from the area to those who ran to victims was nearly even. Along with emergency services, I watched race volunteers, who were merely out to support runners for a road race, race themselves toward the injured.  This action alone refueled my faith in humanity.  While social media spewed hatred, contempt, and unintelligent drivel, people were providing aid and care. It is most likely that there were more people helping than those who perpetuated the crime. In essence, the good truly outweighed the bad.

Running is still about freedom; putting on shoes and heading out to wherever a road or trail can take you. That has not changed. I still believe that my chances of being hurt or worse at a marathon, by an act of violence, are as slim as getting on a plane. The difference of course, is that I take that risk into consideration whenever I board a plane.  The potential of a bomb or worse at a marathon is simply another risk factor to take into consideration now. Is it right? No. But we still get on planes, take subways, rebuild high rise buildings, shop at malls, and essentially get on with our lives.

The human “race” has been and always will be one of good versus evil and I still believe in the innate good of mankind.  Hatred is taught and learned by those who know no better. It infiltrates the weak and is acquired by the cowardly. By focusing on the good, we, as human beings, will continue to move forward in a positive way. This is one race we are destined to win.

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