Diary of a Financier

For Boston, For Boston, We Sing Our Proud Refrain

In Existential on Sat 27 Apr 2013 at 16:20

“Whoever did this obviously did not know shit about the people of Boston, because nothing these terrorists do is going to shake them. For Pete sake, Boston was founded by the pilgrims–a people so tough they had to buckle their fucking hats on! It is the cradle of the American Revolution. A city that withstood an 86-year losing streak! A city that made it through The Big Dig– a construction project that backed up traffic for 16 years; there are commuters just getting home now… They attacked the Boston Marathon–an event celebrating people who run 26 miles on their day off until their nipples are raw–for fun!”

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Comedy Central (2013.04.16)

~~~~

I consciously resisted the urge to publish an entry regarding the tragic Boston Marathon Bombings last Monday, April 15, 2013. I did record my thoughts, however, to crystallize my reaction. I took that draft, and I put it away in a drawer (so to speak) for a number of reasons. First, the media had this circled, so there was nothing left to say that hadn’t already been said–no matter how hollow or heartfelt. Second, I thought some time was necessary to provide context, perspective, and objectivity, because our instinct is to speculate and speak in superlatives, as we’ve been conditioned by sensationalist MSM outlets. In the end, I wanted this diary entry to see the light of day, complete with both raw emotion and that aforementioned perspective.

I have a personal account of the bombings, and I’d like to relate that here, because it’s a resonant life experience that affects me in ways I know, and ways I don’t…

During the bombings, my fiancee got caught in her office on Boylston & Berkley, where they wouldn’t let anyone enter or exit until 4:00; she had to watch the medical staff and police wheel-out victims. She felt helpless.

My sister got caught in the UNOs on Boylston Street, precisely bisecting the two detonations; she escaped out a back alley, waded through the carnage, and ran to Storrow Drive (along the river). She feels lucky.

My grandparents have watched from the finish line at Marathon Sports for the past 20 years, but this year they decided to see the start from Hopkinton. They feel thankful.

I can always revisit this henceforth, as a reminder of all I have and how quickly it can all be lost.

~~~~

This is my hometown. Boston has its own idiosyncrasies. Forever cast as New York’s understudy, Boston has a fierce Napoleon complex. Consequently, we do things bigger. Our accents are proudly unintelligible. Our habit of hyperbole is bar none. Our gangsters were epically gangster. Tribute to Boston Marathon Victims_Boston MagazineOur restaurants are the most gluttonous, our fans are the most fanatic, our drivers the rudest, our streets the least navigable, our boutiques the most boutique-y, and our collars the most blue. Perhaps these are biases we select or inflate because we’re too close to this city, but we’re proud of our ways, and we never cower or hide that fabric in the presence of others.

In the wake of 9/11, New York showed the world the epitome of “Antifragile“–something that gains from disorder.¹ As we’ve seen so many of these tragedies throughout history, I’m certain that it’s human nature to bounce back, which phenomenon makes nobody’s antifragility any less extraordinary.

People keep asking me how we’re doing up here. We’re ahead of the curve, and thank you. Locals are going to work, going to play, smiling, laughing, and crying like they always have. We’ll never forget though–we haven’t forgotten. We’ll wear it like a chip on our shoulder, and it’s an experience that will unavoidably affect our character going forward. Whatever it is that made you love us or hate us, we’re more of it now. The day after the bombings, Renee Rancourt and 17,565 Bostonians let you know it: Boston Bruins National Anthem.

So, I’m sad, and I’m mad, but I’m not changing my way–or the American way–in the wake of this. You’re an idiot, whoever you are. You’re an idiot because your terrorist plot made us take one step back, and we’ve already taken two steps forward, trouncing you in the process. You’re an idiot for doing this on our Patriots Day (still my favorite holiday), because you gave us an opportunity to exercise our patriotism, which so many police, Patriots, and pedestrians did, without pause, for the world to see. You [were] some punks next door, or maybe you were even the Taliban, cowardly orchestrating the whole thing from the shadows; either way, we’re stronger, and you’re still a loser.

I woke up last Saturday relieved and exhausted. This played out like a movie, ending with brilliant, instant gratification. It was real though. And despite the pride I feel right now–for my hometown, my country, and the men & women who serve us–I can’t stop thinking about the people out there who aren’t relieved, because their lives have been changed (or ended) by this.

I grew up in Medford, 7 miles north of Boston on I-93, whereupon the shadow of the Prudential still stretches when the sun is right. They killed a girl from Medford, Krystle Campbell. But–and I remember this about 9/11–it doesn’t matter that they struck my home or someone from my hometown or a stranger from the other side of the world, it matters that someone did this to humanity. The death of a President matters no more than that of a celebrity and no more than that of a layperson. A human casualty is a human casualty, and Krystle, Martin, and Lu deserve the world’s condolences.

One of the things that I admire about the Stephen Colbert excerpt above is that he removed the ego from his tribute to Boston. For him, the news was not about “I” or “me.” While it’s interesting to discuss with your friends where you were or what you were doing or how you were affected by the tragedy, this isn’t about me or you or the City of Boston; it’s about the victims (and to some extent, the public servants and first responders). So, I’m done talking about me…

~~~~

This brings me to the point of “perspective” that I’ve repeatedly mentioned herein. This was not our 9/11 or our London Underground. Such comparisons are wildly unnecessary–literary aphorisms designed to sell magazines, newspapers, screenplays, and pageviews. This was terrorism, and sure, that warrants everyone’s regard. And sure, Friday’s manhunt was also spectacular drama, which we can’t resist by nature. I get that, but again, big picture: this is about the victims. Syrian tribute to Boston MarathonWith that in mind, it’s unjust that the Waco, Texas fertilizer plant explosion (at least 15 dead), which occurred almost simultaneously with the Boston Bombings (3 dead), received a fraction of the recognition. The drama is over, so why does one incident continue to garner more legislative/judicial/memorial tribute than the other? Where are the #WacoStrong t-shirts and bumperstickers? (I guess there’s no money to be made in that.) We see this every day. It’s one of mankind’s curious failures–no more glaring than when a celebrity overdose captures every headline, while thousands of Syrians are murdered without outrage and millions of “nothingmen” pass without tribute.

I am a Bostonian, and this is my diary, so I’ve told my story in my words. More importantly, I wanted to tip my hat to all the servicemen/women and the victims, who deserved the spotlight. I also wanted to pay homage to all those who suffer or perish in the dark–wrongfully unheralded due to an availability bias.

~~~~

For Boston, for Boston,
We sing our proud refrain!
For Boston, for Boston,
‘Tis Wisdom’s earthly fane.
For here all are one
And their hearts are true,
And the towers on the Heights
Reach to Heav’ns own blue.
For Boston, for Boston,
Till the echoes ring again!

For Boston, for Boston,
Thy glory is our own!
For Boston, for Boston,
‘Tis here that Truth is known.
And ever with the Right
Shall thy heirs be found,
Till time shall be no more
And thy work is crown’d.
For Boston, for Boston,
For Thee and Thine alone.

–“For Boston,” Boston College Fight Song, TJ Hurley (BC 1885)

________________

¹I just so happen to have just finished reading Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.

Advertisements

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s