When Shall We Live if Not Now?

runners Yesterday, there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Today, I am writing this from Seat 9-F as I fly toward the East coast.

Security at the airport this morning was relatively high, and the local media was there with cameras, asking travelers how they felt to be flying the day after a terrorist attack, which is a question designed it increase fear. But for me the answer is—it feels like most other days since the second time I flew after 9-11. Because, you either live with the knowledge that life comes with risk, or you stay home. And I don’t stay home.

Like most people, I am angered and sickened by the fact that a person or group would attack, mutilate and kill random people. As I write this, the attacker is unknown, so his or her reasons for this are also unknown. Not that it matters to the families of the people killed, or others whose lives are permanently changed by the event, but it seems like we always want to know why, as if there might be a reason that would make us say “Oh—I see—well no wonder.”

No doubt, when we get the answers, we will not likely find peace. We will just be reminded that where ever we go, whatever we are doing, things could go wrong. In the last few years, possibly because more people were adding “run a marathon” to their bucket list, it seemed that there were more deaths associated with running the races across the country, usually from heart attacks or something similar. This year, we have people killed violently by someone wanting to make a statement or maybe just wanting to watch—we don’t yet know. Dying while out living our lives is a risk we take—we seem to find dozens of ways to put ourselves at risk for fun (skydiving, mountain climbing, driving, swimming, boating and running) but most of us accept the trade-off of fun or convenience to risk of the activities in which we participate. We are not prepared, however, when someone else adds to our risk by actively targeting us. But it happens. It happens in the USA, and it happens around the world.

So, for a while (and for some people, possibly from now on) there will be changes made, both real and placebo in value, and we will move on with our lives. But, because there is some truth to the idea that if we burrow in and stop doing the things that may make us vulnerable, but that add to our lives, the crazy wins. And that would injure all of us.

I am not saying we should not be cautious. I am certainly not saying we should accept violence as part of life, though it strikes me that as long as there are people, there will be violence. But events where a person, deranged by nature or by rage, acts against unknown groups cannot be allowed to limit our lives for his/her cause or pleasure.

I bring to you the story of Bill Iffrig, as reported by MSN. Yesterday, when we first learned about the bombing, my coworker and I watched some of the online coverage. We noticed Mr. Iffrig falling when the blast went off and wondered if the man (who is 78, per the article) was ok. What I learned today was that he was helped to his feet by a race official and walked to the finish line to get his time down, despite a scraped knee and what looks to be a very hard fall. And I’m glad he and whatever other racers did or could finish the race did indeed do so. Sometimes, we must be undeterred.

As we hold the murdered and injured in Boston in our thoughts and prayers, and resolve to fight violence when and where we can, we should also resolve to live our lives boldly—aware that life includes risk, but that limiting our lives by living in constant fear is even riskier.