Patriot’s Day in Boston. It always falls on the third Monday in April. You can count on it. And the Boston Marathon. Always held on Patriot’s Day – a day when literally thousands of people make their way from Hopkinton to Boylston Street, doing so for more than 100+ years. You can count on that happening, too. But things will change, now, because of the Boston Marathon Bombings – you can bet on it.
There are hundreds of lessons to be learned from this tragedy. As an After-Fiftier, I’m struck by how appropriate these lessons are for all of us, regardless of our age. But here, below, are 5 lessons which may be especially poignant for those who are Baby Boomers or beyond.
1. Our actions are lessons absorbed by those around us.
How did you react to the news of these most recent terrorist bombings? Absolutely everything you do, you say, is being absorbed by your children, grandchildren, colleagues, and more. You might have displayed righteous indignation. And who would disagree – given the context. Think of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and his “F”-bomb speech in support of Boston spirit, which was hailed positively by Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Some things in life mandate indignation, anger. This was one of them. But I’ve gotta ask: what were the lessons that were being absorbed by the Tsarnaev brothers. Why such hatred? Why such callous disregard for the lives of others? And who? Who were their teachers? Their parents – who claim an impossible ignorance; their friends, classmates; Al Qaeda militants? Could it have been something that you – or I – did that helped spur on this hatred?
2. Life is short.
I know you’ve heard it before. Life is not a rehearsal. This is it. It’s real. And, it’s sacred. So, every one of those days you have – well, make them matter. You woke up today? Count your blessings. There are four souls who didn’t – we grieve the loss of Martin, Lu, Krystle, and Sean. You know all those things you were going to do, all those mountains you were going to climb, all those kindnesses you were going to bestow? So, what’s keeping you. What is soooo important that it’s keeping you from living your life to its fullest. This is it. Do it now!
3. “Privacy” as we knew in our youth has changed forever.
At any time, at any moment, our bodies may be frisked, patted down. The secrets held within our bags, briefcases, pocketbooks, phones, computers, paper files and electronic ones, too, may be exposed to stark, public glare. And I am willing to let it happen to me and my loved ones, first, because I (we) have nothing to hide, and second – because the safety and well-being of others may require it. So, go ahead. Frisk away. Sadly, it’s a different world. But I’ll adjust.
4. “Policing” is no longer the work of a few, trained professionals.
The quick identification and capture of the Tsarnaev brothers has demonstrated the extraordinary impact of social media and the role we all play in ferreting out the truth – regardless of how ugly it might be. But with this new-found “power-of-the-people” comes a sacred responsibility. The actions we undertake should be in the service of good, and justice, and righteousness for the betterment of us all. Those who think and act otherwise are spoilers.
5. We’re all now jugglers in the circus of life.
A successful juggler balances at least three air-borne balls at once. And now, each of us has our own “juggling” challenge. We must balance a first ball: ethnic discrimination, with a second ball: fear; and then add in the third ball: nationalism. All these interests must be appropriately tempered to maintain a righteous and dignified humanity.
Is this tough to do? Of course. But interestingly, my own son is showing me the way to balance these three competing interests during this challenging time. Here is a quote from his recent Facebook posting.
“This week has been a very intense week for Boston. Before ignorance and hate take over, please let me share a note – Student Visa’s and Immigration are not responsible for this. Ignorance and Hate are responsible for this.
My father came to America on a student visa almost 50 years ago. He was dirt poor and barely spoke English. He got a full ride at MIT because his family knew the best way to get out of poverty is through education. He has always been driven to succeed. He graduated, married my American mother, became a citizen, works for the government and served as a local politician – all because he is so grateful to have the opportunity to live the American Dream.
For all of those who believe Student Visa’s, Exchange Students and Immigration are responsible for bringing hate to America, please think of my father and his story. I love my father and I love America for embracing him and allowing his dreams to come true.”