Marathon attack should be reminder to be empathetic

Emergency personnel assist the victims at the scene of a bomb blast during the Boston Marathon on Monday. MCT PHOTO
Emergency personnel assist the victims at the scene of a bomb blast during the Boston Marathon on Monday. MCT PHOTO

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AT ISSUE: Boston bombing reminds Americans of vulnerability

We all remember where we were on that fateful day. Some of us were taking the ISTEP test, some were at the doctor’s office and others were home sick. But no matter how little we were or how much we understood about what was going on, we all know where we were on Sept. 11, 2001. 

It’s hard for a lot of college students to remember what life was like before 9/11. It split our lives into two categories: Pre- and post- 9/11. But our sense of vulnerability has gone back down since the aftermath. 

We’ve watched footage of troops in the Middle East and terrorism acts in foreign countries, we’ve adapted to annoying airport security procedures and with the exception of gun violence, we’ve remained relatively silent about attacks on the home front. 

No matter where you live, though, the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday is a reminder that we’re still fragile. As of 11 p.m. Monday, three people died and at least 144 people, 17 of which were listed in critical condition, were being treated for injuries from the blasts.  

Although the death toll isn’t as staggering as 9/11 or other recent tragic events, that doesn’t mean it’s less significant. In the wake of the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings, reporting on unimaginable and graphic tragedy has become routine for news media. The general public turning to social media to spread the word, express condolences and tell people to pray for victims has also become routine.

But there’s another side of the coin, the side that says we’ve become jaded and have lost empathy. 

Mere hours after the bombing, people used images from the attack to make memes, including a picture of a victim being pushed in wheelchair, his leg blown off with bones hanging down and the words “Go to the marathon they said... It’ll be fun they said...” Other memes with phrases such as “As if I needed another reason not to go running,” “Come join us... we’re having a blast” and “Must have been from I ran” started floating around the Internet by Monday evening. 

But it’s no laughing matter. Tragic events such as the marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, Aurora and Columbine shouldn’t just be a talking point or a part of Internet fun.  

We’ve become a culture of crisis and don’t seem to have as much of a sense of loss across the board as we once did. In order to truly be influential, we all need to do more. 

We need to use those heartbreaking images of mangled bodies to remember that lives were changed and destroyed. Just like Americans came together after 9/11, it’s time to rise from the ashes of these bombs and show those who bring hate into the world the power of the human spirit. 

The American Red Cross said it had enough blood to help Boston Marathon victims, but it may need more soon, and the Salvation Army is in contact with Boston authorities to figure out what types of donations victims need. 

Not only should people of our generation remember where we were on April 15, 2013, we should remember what we did to help.


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