As I came home from work yesterday, before the bombing, I was contemplating how much of our lives are dependent on other people. I was stopped at a red light and I was thinking, any of these people could kill me right now. Even grocery shopping, or at work. Anyone could easily kill me. All it takes is a gun, or a knife or anything. There are so many times during the day that I’m basically unprotected from other humans. There’s not even a wall between them and me. So much trust between us.
Physically, humans are pretty weak. I’m surprised we’ve been so successful as species. Chimps and gorillas are so much stronger than us. They’re so much harder to kill than we are. The only reason we’ve survived for so long is because we really do help each other out. We don’t often go after our own. We know, at some basic Darwinian level, that we are weak. We need each other.
When I got home I started thinking about some warriors I know. People who I would have never classified as weak. People running the Boston marathon that morning. I posted a “Good luck” on Facebook to my friends, who I knew were running and went to bed. When I woke up and switched on the TV, my wind whirled. It was around 4:00 Boston time. What? Someone bombed the marathon? The most prestigious marathon in the US? It doesn’t make sense.
I was talking to a non-runner friend last night who said, “I’m glad Boston isn’t one of the ones you decided to do.” I commented, “I want to do Boston, but I’m not good enough. They don’t let scrubs like me in.” It occurred to me after talking to her that most non-runners just think Boston is another race. It’s a big deal for a runner to run Boston. It’s a race most aspire to run. You have to qualify (and be quite fast) to run the race and people come from all over the world. It’s “THE” marathon. Some of the best runners in the world were there.
The best runners were probably already finished by 4:09. That’s an average marathon time. To put it in perspective, if you finished a qualifying race at 4:09, you wouldn’t be allowed to register at Boston (you have to be quicker). The time when the largest number of people would finish an average marathon (I’m sure it’s the same at Boston. Just because you have a faster qualifying time doesn’t mean you’re always fast, and they have some people who run for charity without qualifying). The bomb was clearly meant for the masses and not the few first finishers.
The photos from yesterday are horrific, but I’m sure being there was even worse. What did the runners, the warriors who I think of as strong and fearless do? They ran, but many didn’t run away. They ran to help the people in need. They ran to the blood banks to donate. They ran into the mess to help clean it up. People who had just run 26.2 miles, not an easy feat, gave blood, picked people off the ground, helped where they could. That’s amazing to me. They really are warriors.
We do put ourselves at risk all the time. We’re really at the mercy of the sanity of other people. It doesn’t have to be a car bomb or a gun, we’re easily injured. However, even in tragedy, we still help each other out. There’s something to be said for that. When some other species would be running away, to protect themselves, we run in, to help others. Maybe we’re not so weak after all.