In the face of tragedy

The outpouring of support for Boston is beautiful, but the attitude that we will move on unscathed is problematic.

Matthew Hoy


I didn’t know how to react to the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon.

I was confused when it happened. I noticed a small group of people huddled around a television in the University Recreation Center, and I joined them. At first, the images didn’t look that bad. As time went on, they got worse. There was blood covering the sidewalks, people had lost limbs and an 8-year-old boy had been killed. It was — and is — horrifying. Tears came, then anger and then the numbness that accompanies the responsibilities of everyday life.

The next day, I spoke to a professor about it. After we expressed our mutual grief, she observed that usually, in the wake of a tragedy, she would feel shocked. She did not this time.

I felt the same way. After Virginia Tech, Aurora and Sandy Hook, the disasters feel almost normal now, as if we were lucky to go this long without one. Violence has become so commonplace that it does not elicit shock.

This reaction has been discussed at length on television and in print, but in the context of strength rather than desensitization. Blogs are flooding the Internet, written about our lack of fear, written about the resilience of Boston and America and boldly declaring that we will calmly move on with our lives.

The resilience of our people is unquestionable. As is always the case with events such as these, stories of heroic women and men, like Carlos Arredondo, continue to arise. It is obvious that we must all move on from this awful event.

But lost in the declarations of fearlessness and bravado is the fact that this should shock us. It is not acceptable to live in a world where violence is to be expected. This is, of course, an idealistic attitude, but if the goal is a world where innocent people aren’t slaughtered — and it should be — we cannot allow ourselves to grow accustomed to these tragedies.