World, Keep Running

Two days ago, I emailed my mom.

“Hi Mom, I have to do a marathon run in the morning on Saturday. Can I sleep over on Friday?”

Two minutes later, she replied: “Do you know what happen in Boston?”

——

As I’m writing this, the Boston terrorist manhunt has ended. The first suspect died late last night in a battle with police, and the second suspect has just been detained. Now they’re busy sorting out the details of the past few days, trying to figure out the why’s behind such a senseless act and the other who’s involved. Boston, and the rest of us for that matter, can rest a little easier tonight.

As for me, I can’t shake this so quickly. I’m running in an event tomorrow morning, and thoughts of terror quickly surface. What if they plant bombs on the road? What if I get shot by a sniper? Could my last day be tomorrow? This is what acts of terrorism do to you. They look to make you afraid. They try to rob you of your freedom. Soon, I am no longer living for today but arrested by the fear of no tomorrow.

The most sobering thing to me, in this whole tragedy, is my realization that terrorism is an immediate reality for some people living on the other side of the world. Random car bombings at the market. Girls targeted for attending school, trying to get an education. It seems like more people are resorting to violence, expressing their anger or ignorance in extreme ways. This is the new reality.

But in the midst of it all, this terribly mad world, I find a weird sense of calm. It’s like these events scream tragedy and injustice but somehow whisper simple truths. I could die tomorrow. Hell, I could die tonight. It could be from a terrorist attack or heart attack or car accident or simple slip in the shower. What are the odds? Apart from some divine authority you could say it’s a dice roll. In a world full of variables there is very little we truly control.

What I can control is what I’ve been given. Namely, my ability to live in the seconds and minutes–acknowledging that every breath is nothing short of miraculous–to be fully there and not elsewhere. To embrace my friends and family and strangers (and sometimes even enemies when I’m not so hung up with minor grievances) and continue to work, eat, drink, write, sleep, pray and worship. This is what I can do, and to do less than this because of the wicked minority is to allow fear into a place it does not belong. To live at all is to risk. To succumb to fear is to die small deaths long before your final breath.

Boston has taught us many things. One, it’s an unbelievably tough and resilient city. Two, you keep wicked calm and carry the hell on. I will run tomorrow. I will appreciate the ability to move my legs and, Lord willing, I will get through the race. And I will remember all those who suffered this past week. Terror has its moment but it will ultimately, and always, come in second place.

——

Later that day, I responded to my mom: “It’s not a marathon…sorry. I meant ‘mud run.’ It’s a shorter run and I think they’ll have tighter security. Don’t worry mom. God is in control.”

Mom: “ok, I’ll make the bed.”

Osama is Dead

I heard the news from my parents at about 8:15 earlier this evening. I didn’t know exactly how to react. Joy? Gladness? Consolation? The whole world was just celebrating the royal wedding a couple days earlier. And now the world’s most wanted terrorist is dead. It was almost as surreal and shocking as 9/11.

I turned on CNN to witness people gathering around the White House to celebrate the news. Chants and shouts of “USA! USA!” and our national anthem being belted loudly in unison. It should be a time for celebration–at least the patriot, the avenger, the judge in me would like to believe.

Yet a part of me feels a little eerie celebrating death. It seems contradictory, so against our ingrained beliefs and philosophies. Not that he didn’t deserve it, for he certainly did and some, but how horrible of a human being must one be to elicit cheers upon the announcement of his death? How twisted, cruel, and corrupt must a man be? I guess those questions were answered tonight. Osama bin Laden–what a tragic waste of a human being.

Alas, terrorism still lives on. Blood will still be shed. And all the conflicts and turmoil in the world will continue to seek resolution to no avail until the final judgment.

But, if just for a day, the freedom fighters of the world can sleep proudly and peacefully, knowing their efforts were not in vain.

Thanks to the armed forces who sacrifice their lives to protect our country so that we might live out the promises of the constitution–if anything, they are what I’ll be celebrating the most. Cheers to you.