Coming off a difficult weekend due to the loss of a friend bled into a tough week in Boston and across the nation as we were rocked by a senseless act of violence. As seen in the wake of 9/11 and most recently during and following the explosions at the Boston Marathon, tragic events often provide time not only for instantaneous heroic action but a time for solidarity and reflection- a time to ignite forgotten internal strength and a time for us to lend support in ways and degrees unimaginable.
We witnessed an act of evil turned into a wave of kindness and love on individual, community, local and national levels, extending far beyond those directly affected. From event staff going above and beyond call of duty to strangers lending room in their homes to an outpouring of support on social media, to cities united, to sports teams abandoning their rivalries for a day or two (fellow Red Sox fans everywhere rejoice!).
And finally, to the national and state governments, FBI and Boston police force along with the help of individual citizens who provided information, photos and tips leading to the identification and eventual capture of the perpetrators.
The amazing generosity imparted on strangers, connecting us all from Boston to California, was heartening. And it got me thinking, what if we embraced that compassion and applied it to our lives everyday? What if we were able to break down barriers of race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and political party for the greater good? What if we were able to abandon our preconceived notions and open our hearts and minds to begin to understand the lives of others? Imagine all the hate, contention, in-fighting, discrimination and acts of violence occurring everyday that could be eliminated?
On a larger scale, this might translate into politicians letting go of entrenched ideologies to vote in favor of the rights, safety and security of his/her constituents or an influential artist challenging the status quo by taking on a personal but misunderstood or controversial issue through film, television or music. But, on a smaller scale, it starts with all of us, connected in our humanity. Because sometimes something as simple as a smile to a fellow subway rider, an excuse me to a fellow pedestrian on the street, a thank you to your bus driver, a coffee with a colleague, or lending an ear to a friend could not only make someone’s day, but save a life. As rapper Macklemore sings in his touching and personal appeal on the issue of Marriage Equality, “Strip away the fear/ Underneath it’s all the same love/ About time that we raised up.”