|Faneuil Hall - Boston, Massachusetts.|
So... Yesterday, another insane person (or persons) perpetrated another horrific crime against innocent people, this time against those who were attending and/or participating in the Boston Marathon. I needed a day to process yet another horrific event before I could comment on it. And here's what I think.
The first time I ever went to Boston, I was working for a facility which housed mentally and physically disabled people. It was what I thought I wanted to do with my life right out of school. The 'school' really turned out to be a place where rich people dumped off the children of whom they were ashamed, but that's another story for another time.
Anyway, a client was going home for the Holidays and I and another 'Houseparent' were asked to accompany him on the short flight to Boston. We flew in in the early morning morning, dropped the client off with his family and had nine hours to explore and play before flying home again. We shopped at Faneuil Hall; we walked all around downtown and ended up in a seafood place because the young lady I was with (i have no memory of her name) wanted chowder. I hate clam chowder and I have no idea what I ate - probably a fried platter. But I liked the city's vibe and wanted to go back.
In college, my friends Terry and Marly and I drove up to visit our friend Brian at his grandparents' once state-of-the-art mid-century home in Amherst. The next day we went into Boston and I am proud to say that my 20-something self did pretty good navigating the insanity that is Boston traffic. There was also an infamous 'research' trip to Salem (we were doing The Crucible and we left on Thursday, the 12th, after Mary called my new job, weeping and saying she was my sister and that Grandmom had died, so I could leave early*) which is very close to Boston. Of course, my dear K has family ties to the area, and I've been there on more than one occasion with her. It's a good town, filled with college students; teachers and professors and businesses of every kind, just like any major city. There are good neighborhoods and bad ones; fun things to do and lame things to do; history, art, theatre; shopping; great bars - Boston has always meant a very good time, every time I've been there.
So please bear with me when I say that I can't imagine the horror, the pain and the suffering inflicted on people who were, up until that moment, also experiencing Boston as a very good time. The fear and confusion must have been so intense. And so much pain (both physical and emotional). Horrible!
And for what? As of this writing, we still don't know who or why. Of course, the why almost doesn't matter. Did 'God' tell someone to do this to advance a political agenda? Or did a dog claiming to be God tell someone to do this so someone will finally acknowledge his pathetic existence? Was a spurned lover out to kill an ex who was running in the marathon or in the crowd? Maybe an angry, disqualified runner from the past wanted to exact his revenge. It doesn't matter.
What matters are the people killed and maimed; people whose lives have been irrevocably and horribly changed. And whether this was the act of an organized group of religious fanatics or of a loner writing a manifesto in a woodshed, it was ultimately an act of madness. When we were children, our parents did their best to convince us that there are no monsters under the bed or in the closet or hiding behind the coats on the coat-rack. "Monsters aren't real," they told us. But they lied. While there may be no green-skinned bogey-men with fangs and claws waiting to rend us to pieces, there are other monsters who never fail to prove their existence. In schools, malls, movie theaters and major sporting events; on trains and in office buildings; in the air and on the the ground; the monsters keep shouting "I am here! I am to be feared! I am a Monster!"
Here's the thing: Don't fear the monster. He doesn't deserve your fear. Find the monster and punish him, so other monsters may think twice. I know there are far more good people in the world than bad, just as there are more beautiful things than ugly things. There's great art and literature and philanthropists and scientists who are working to sure disease and end suffering. There are dew-covered spiderwebs spilling prismatic rainbows in the morning sun and exotically plumed birds wading in warm swamps; romantic sunsets; sparkling beaches; fields of wildflowers... you get the idea. And we all should be able to take time to revel in the good things about life, without worrying if a bomb is sitting in that trashcan on the corner or if the guy sitting next to me at the AMC24 has gun under his unseasonal coat.
I'm offering no solutions - that's for smarter folks than I to sort out. Of course, without bad things; without pain and suffering; we wouldn't be able to appreciate joy and pleasure, would we? Be glad for every day you wake up. Stop taking things so seriously. Smile. Let the monsters know we're on to them and that we have no intention of letting them win.
Call me "Pollyana." Call me a cock-eyed optimist. Call me (gasp!) a Liberal. I really think Lennon and McCartney had it right:
Oh - I also think we really need to overhaul the mental heath care system in this country, ASAP. After Reagan dismantled it in the 80's, it's about time we overhauled and reinstituted comprehensive mental health care for those who may pose a danger to society.
*Another trip worthy of it's own post.