As someone with a tenuous grasp on the very notion of goodwill, I believe I have a rather unique perspective when making that claim. Reading firsthand accounts of the Boston Marathon Bombing reminds me of how little I understand of the very idyllic and what I view to be very American concept of goodwill – the friendly supportive camaraderie and exuberance at the accomplishment of others, even people you don’t know.
Every story from Boston today begins the same, with unbridled goodwill – a wife for a husband – a supportive group of friends for a runner’s “finale” marathon – I’m sure a number of formerly overweight individuals and their cheering families beaming with pride.
I don’t understand the appeal of it – or really the relevance of those particular achievements – but I can recognize and grasp the significance of that whole overwhelming atmosphere of goodwill. Almost as much as the significance of a father who won’t be able to teach his daughter how to ride a bike, or the mother who will never again be able to hug her son before he goes to sleep.
The tragedy is not simply rooted in the death and mutilation resulting from this act of terrorism, consequences that have irreparably devastated dozens of families tonight. These things occur to hundreds of families around the world on a daily basis, and they are no less significant to those individuals and the ones who love them.
What strikes me so poignantly in this situation is the emotional significance of the target. The Boston Marathon is not just about the personal accomplishment of the individuals who cross the finish line. It’s also about the seemingly limitless, collectively colorblind outpouring of sheer goodwill and support of the family, friends and entirely unacquainted onlookers and strangers in the crowd.
Such an American thing, needlessly tarnished.
The truth of the attack won’t be known for weeks, or even months. The lasting impact – not on the the families effected, which will obviously last lifetimes – but the social and legislative impacts, are of course yet to be seen. Needless to say, this event will make all of our lives a little more complicated, as we will all victimized by the zealousness (justified or not) of the inevitable government and regulatory response. My thoughts tonight are with the families, because that is a loss I at least have the ability to understand.