Love During Tragedy

Hard Boston Love

It’s hard to write about love today. I’ve avoided talking much about the Boston events, not through lack of caring but rather because I don’t feel adequate to address it. Other writers I admire such as Mark Morford have done a much better job of helping navigate our feelings during the tragedy:

In times of violent, faraway tragedy, you do the only thing possible: You gather in, hold tight, and take care of those close to you.

I found myself praying that the perpetrators would somehow be unaffiliated with any cause or ethnic group, because I feared reprisals based not on crimes but on appearance or belief or simple misunderstandings. I have had Sikh friends who have been berated for Islamic beliefs, and Islamic friends who have been berated for the beliefs of a small portion of their faith.

I see fierce loyalty and community love expressed by Bostonians (no surprise there) such as Jim Dowd’s column:

This town is not your run-of-the mill medium sized regional capital. In picking Boston as a target you picked has the unique condition of having a ridiculously huge number of completely off-the-wall genius techno-wizards co-existing right alongside some of the most psychotic angry, violent motherf&*^ers on the planet. I guarantee you that bringing these two groups together for common cause will turn out to be a massive miscalculation your part.

Ben Franklin
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” – Ben Franklin

Finding Love During Tragedy

At the same time I read of the Boston suspect’s father, in Russia. Believing that his sons have been framed, he warns that “all Hell would break loose” if his other son is killed. At the time of this writing, as far as I know, the boy’s fate is not yet determined. The news has shown his aunt and uncle, and the pain in their eyes and voices as they try to deal with this reality…it is hard to imagine how hard it must be to deal with the discovery that someone you love may have done this kind of evil.

Or any kind of evil, really. That’s when it’s all too easy to let that emotional tipping point take you over the edge of love into the exact opposite: hate. Both are rooted in passion, but hate, as all Star Wars fans can tell you, is easier. It burns faster, and leaves a path of destruction – whether literal or spiritual or both – with all concerned.

Young College Gray:  I want to make art about positive things!
          College Mentor: Bah! Happiness is overrated!
Young College Gray: Yeah? Well, misery is EASY!

I am grateful that at least some of the focus on the event has been the selfless way so many went to the aid of the victims. Those who helped are being hailed as heroes, as being worthy of admiration and emulation, and for a grandfather that’s reassuring. Those are the people I will point out to my progeny. It will help, because it’s going to be tricky, in a world of nifty explosions in fiction and not-so-nifty in real life, to teach my grandsons that yes, love is hard, but it’s worth it.

In his column, Dowd mentions something he claims is peculiar to Boston: “Irish Alzheimer’s”, when all you can remember are the grudges you have against people. Maybe there’s some way to have it the other way around…where you forget all the grudges, and only remember the love you gave, the love you got, the love you shared.

Events aren’t making easy to remember the love these days.

Try harder.



1 thought on “Love During Tragedy”

  1. There’s a lot of truth in Dowd’s quote. Boston was “the big city” when I was growing up, the major school trips were to the Boston aquarium and other educational locations and if I’d stayed in New England and had an urge growing up to move to a major metropolis, Boston would have likely been it. Haven’t been out much since, I stayed in Boston on my last trips to Maine and Florida after graduating high school, and I was flown out for a very brief and surreal interview there during the tech boom. It’s a patchwork town for certain.

    Boston’s got that blend of old and new with a very large underlying sense of anger and resentment. The sense of reaching up for greatness, and feeling never quite good enough that resonated with the “large” cities in Maine I came from. And with that kind of anger going out all the time, you get extremely protective of those closest to you. The bomber is extremely lucky the police got to him first, and that the world had their eyes on the police.

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