The morning after the Newtown shooting I wrote this on Facebook:
“I’ve seen a lot of friends posting inspirational quotes this morning. I understand it. I did it yesterday. Sometimes words are the only way to bring solace after something so horrifying and heartbreaking. I’ve also noticed friends asking for moments of silence and prayers. I get that, too. We can’t physically be with the suffering families, so it’s nice to believe there’s a benevolent being in the sky showering the grieving mothers with love. But for the next few hours, I’m not going to lean on either of those things. I’m not going to look up to the heavens, and I’m not going to look down at my phone. I’m going to walk around and do my best to look people in the eye. I’m going to smile and listen and engage and participate in this ridiculously amazing life, because today, there are twenty little kids who don’t get to do that. We need to stop taking that for granted. We need to stop being so impatient and annoyed. We need to call our parents and play with our dogs and dance like idiots. We need to pay attention.
Look, I know it won’t last, and I know nothing will make yesterday okay; nothing will bring back those beautiful, smiling faces, but if we can change, even if it’s only for a few seconds, then maybe the innocent didn’t die in vain, maybe the world, during this tiny blip, won’t be such a terrifying place to be.
Otherwise, we should just hurry up building those robots to finally take Earth out of our hands.”
I was trying to convince myself to get up off the floor. I was trying to write through the pain.
Yesterday I couldn’t.
I was done. The world was fucked and writing about it was like composing hymns on the Hindenburg.
Then I read Patton Oswalt’s response to the Boston Marathon shooting, and I remembered why words matter, especially after a tragedy, when sometimes they’re all we have to help us heal. And Patton’s words were stitching up my heart. They reminded me that humanity isn’t evil, even if the piece of shit who planted and detonated those bombs was.
He did it to strike fear, to kill, to maim, to cause chaos. He succeeded to some degree, but there were other consequences:
After the initial explosion, men and women to ran into the smoke not knowing what they’d find, only knowing people were hurt. Even as other bombs went off, they stayed put and kept pressure on open wounds. Some were doctors; others were fans or runners in the race. They risked their lives to tie tourniquets and to carry their brothers and sisters to safety.
And then there were the runners, who’d just finished a grueling 26 miles, who saw the devastation and kept running to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood.
The disaster inspired people all over the country to contact the Red Cross and to call up friends and family in Boston.
It forced parents to hold their sons and daughters a little tighter after reading about Martin Richard’s death.
Goodness and decency weren’t destroyed in the explosion. They came like a tidal wave after the bombs.
Patton Oswalt was right. “…the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.”