I’ve been watching videos of the Boston Marathon explosions. I wasn’t on a morbid mission to watch destruction repeatedly; I was looking for reactions from the runners. At the end of such an arduous run (I have heard), a runner may have so internalized their pain and is so singularly focused on reaching the finish line that a great deal of external stimulus in that moment can simply fall away.
I wanted to know: Did the people who were inches from the finish line falter? Did they turn, startled, to see the event happening behind them?
Those who were on the threshold of finishing, finished. Most didn’t jump or startle, so intent were they on the task-at-hand.
The thing that struck me most, however, were the others, the ones nearest the blast, closing that small distance to the end, obviously deep in concentration, some clearly laboring, barely jogging, just making it in.
When the bomb erupted the world into chaos alongside them, these people ran. I mean, really picked it up, sprinting to safety.
We humans have a greater depth of heart and soul than we give ourselves credit for. These runners, for instance, have trained and trained and trained, and as they wearily headed into the finish line, giving it that last little bit, were suddenly confronted with mortal danger. That’s the moment the miracle happened, and they ran.
You can say this is a scientific process by which an adrenaline spike is released into the bloodstream to create phantom fumes where there was nothing. A preservation of life technique only utilized to ensure survival at a most critical, tiny moment in time.
What I see is resilience. I see wonders and miracles. It’s a testament to that secret wellspring of strength that allows us to accomplish acts of beauty and wonder. Because, within that same adrenaline spike moment that said, unconditionally and without thought, “RUN!” the people who scattered almost immediately reentered the smoking mess to help their fellows.
There is something beautiful in that which no act of terror can destroy. We, as humans, will always tend to be better than the few who would hurt us and attempt to turn us against each other. Not online, not on paper, maybe, but in real-life moments of humanity, we cannot be broken. Our love for one another, our sense of decency, our very humanity cannot be blown to pieces. It cannot be removed surgically, nor can it be tortured away.
We’ll prevail. We’ll get through this Very Bad Time like we always do when savage acts are perpetrated by a minority in a feeble attempt to break our spirit. We’ll do it with a mixture of empathy and, perhaps, anger, but we’ll do it together.
And that is Something.