As this month’s issue of Parvati Magazine goes to post, it has been a painful week. Bombings at the Boston Marathon left a nation in shock; a subsequent chase for the suspects brought a city to standstill. Explosions at a fertilizer plant in Texas have killed at least 14 people. Young girls continue to be gang-raped in India.
As a runner who daydreams of running a Boston marathon, I took the Boston bombings seriously. While I have yet to run my first marathon, I feel a connection with the people who were there in Boston because I relate to the work it took to get there, and to the joy of reaching a finish line of a race for which you’ve trained hard. Even setting aside the specific sorrow for those who were killed or maimed, I feel anger and grief that the joy of running – especially at a race with such long history – was violated. Runners everywhere are taking personally the events in Boston. Many events of remembrance have taken place across North America. Upcoming races will see runners wearing black armbands, or blue and yellow clothing in solidarity with the Boston Marathon’s colors.
Repeated images and headlines from Boston have dominated Toronto’s local live news channel all week. Lost in the noise have been the everyday tragedies that flash on a screen in a short blurb and are forgotten (or don’t even make it to flash across the screen): suicide bombings elsewhere in the world killing and hurting more than were injured in Boston; a Northern Ontario First Nation declaring a state of emergency due to a rash of suicides; climate change contributing to dangerous heat in cities like Gujarat; gun-control legislation defeated in the US Senate; not even little girls but babies less than a year old being raped in war zones in the Congo and elsewhere; 150,000 people dying of starvation every day.
A fund has been started to help those who were affected by the events in Boston. It already has huge donations from corporate sponsors and is no doubt going to attract donations from the running community all over North America. It’s good to see that those who were harmed physically and emotionally will be supported in their healing. Yet I wonder what would happen if we could expand that sense of concern, compassion and altruism to those who are less well supported. Who is tying blue and yellow ribbons on and dedicating their efforts to preventing Aboriginal suicide? Who is vowing to change their resource consumption to tread more lightly on the planet? Who is demanding change from lawmakers? Who is willing to support foreign aid as a personal and national responsibility?
Every day, unspeakable tragedy is happening all over the world. We don’t need to become consumed with anguish for it all, but expanding our focus may actually help us from being sucked into unproductive upset about a single event (or enabling an excessive and dramatized news cycle).