Remembering the Important

(A serious post, which I didn’t plan for this blog.)

Four innocent people have died in a failed terrorist attack in Boston this week. 

Let’s be clear about this: on an individual level, they succeeded in killing innocents, in shattering lives, breaking hearts, and creating chaos and mayhem. Families are preparing for funerals, and many of those who survived have a long struggle ahead of them as they grapple with lost limbs and the psychological repercussions of the attack.

Grieving and angry, I’m not in any way minimizing those lost and broken lives.

But as terrorists? These guys failed, as terrorists have always failed here (and in a number of other places I could name.)

One definition of terrorism is “the use of violence to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” and I don’t see an intimidated people in Boston, just as I didn’t see it in Oklahoma in 1995, or after 9/11.

What I have seen:

  • people rushing toward where the bombs went off, to help
  • the people of Boston getting up on Tuesday morning and going to work
  • acts of kindness and compassion
  • a picture of the youngest victim of the attack, eight year old Martin Richard, holding a sign pleading for peace and ‘no more hurting people’ that’s gone viral and been viewed by millions

Some see that last point as a reason for despair, and in one way, they’re right. There’s a hideous irony in a little boy holding such a sign dying so violently. And yet, even in our despair and grief, I know that the fact that Martin, and Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell and Sean Collier matter more to us as a society than the killers do is proof of their failure as terrorists.

Talking with my sister yesterday, I realized that neither of us can remember the precise why of the Oklahoma bombing, or even the 9/11 attacks, for that matter. (With the latter, it’s easier just to say, ‘well, the militant whack-job Islamic fundamentalists want to kill us all, but they kill their own children, too, so their stated reasons for coming after us really are irrelevant.’)

They’re not important. Their causes aren’t important. Oh, the media makes sure we see their names and images everywhere, but that’s because they’re desperate to keep us focused on their sites and networks, not because the killers are important.

They’re not. We’re not intimidated, and, as a society, we’ll respond the way we have after past attacks: by continuing to live our lives as we always have. We fly, we work in skyscrapers, we gather for concerts and sporting events. We laugh, we love, we weep, we bicker, and we unite when someone attacks us. Tragedies rock us, but they don’t defeat us, and they don’t change us, not at the core of who we are.

Not only will the Boston Marathon happen next year, I fully expect to see stories of people running it who were there this year.

We may have moments of fear – we’re not stupid, after all – but we still live our lives as we choose, valuing things that such killers, wherever they’re born and whatever their cause, are incapable of comprehending.  We look at their pictures because the media plants them in front of us, but it’s the photos of the victims that go viral, because they’re the ones who truly matter:

Sean Collier

Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer Sean A. Collier, 26, a ‘wonderful and caring son and brother’ remembered as a brave and dedicated cop.

Lu Lingzi

An “optimistic and outgoing” graduate student from China majoring in finance at Boston University.

Krystle Campbell

A restaurant manager remembered as being “sweet, kind, friendly, always smiling, with the ability to make everyone feel special.”

And ‘kindhearted’ eight-year old Martin Richard, a ‘great, great, kid’:

Martin Richard

“No more hurting people. Peace.”

They’re the ones who matter, they’re the ones we focus on, the ones we honor as we defeat their killers by remaining true to who we are.

We will not let their killers win by taking more than they already have in stealing them from us.

(Quotes about the victims pulled from a variety of sources, no infringement intended.)

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