LESLIE CRISS: Aftermath of tragedy can breed hatred or produce heroes

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“I think hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” Tennessee Williams

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” David Levithan

“Being a hero is largely a matter of knowing one’s cues.” Lev Grossman

Last Tuesday afternoon, only an hour after the pair of explosions detonated in Boston, Facebook was abuzz.
There were some who were hearing information from, goodness knows where, and posting it on Facebook.
Folks took it as gospel and passed it on. And on.
The New York Post had early reported someone of Arabic ethnicity had been arrested. They also reported 11 or 12 people had died. Those statements were later proven false.
Still and yet, the posts on Facebook continued, with many hate-filled words of anger aimed at either that one reported person from Saudi Arabia or the entirety of Saudi Arabia.
I realize in any chaotic situation, one goal is to get information out, and that information may at first be sketchy. Even incorrect.
So, perhaps folks should be patient before posting. Once something is out there for all to see, it’s difficult to snatch it back for editing and correcting.
I finally posted that perhaps we should refrain from verbally attacking any person or group without a verified account. Then I closed Facebook and did not return for several days.
I understand the anger. And the fear.
I have close friends who call Boston home now. I also knew a few of the runners in the marathon.
When I first heard about the bombings, I feared for their safety.
In the hours and days following the tragedy, I read accounts of the injuries – horrifying tales of lost limbs for many and lost lives for three.
Such a waste, and for what? That’s what makes me angry. Why would anyone engage in such an act of extreme cowardice that would harm innocent people simply enjoying an April afternoon?
But then as it always happens in this still-good nation, innocent people turned into heroes, rushing into the crowd – not away from – to offer support and solace. Doctors have said lives were saved thanks to the quick thinking of those on the scene.
We’ve seen it happen after nearly every tragedy – large and small. People pulling together in peace.
Why does it take a tragedy to bring us together?
That’s an answer I’d really like to find.

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Frederick Buechner
leslie.criss@journalinc.com