Anna Liss-Roy ’16
It’s been a rough year. From the Sandy Hook shooting to Hurricane Sandy to the Boston bombing, which took place mere miles from home, the tumultuous patterns of this year have become increasingly frightening as the devastation strikes closer to home. As our country seeks to rebuild from the destruction, news of catastrophe, namely of the Boston bombings, has travelled around the world, and money, prayers, and condolences have been pouring in.
As I was scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook a few days ago reading the latest updates on the tragedy, something caught my eye. It was a picture of a small group of men and boys surrounded by rubble, proudly displaying a homemade sign. In all capitals, the sign read, “Boston bombings represent a sorrowful scene of what happens every day in Syria. Do accept our condolences.” And I realized how much I had underestimated the suffering of fellow human beings, simply because I viewed their pain as irrelevant to my life.
It’s easy to think of the human race as a mess of different cultures, nationalities, and identities. Government and geography cause us to identify only with those around us, who we view as “more like us”. The fact is, we are all people. Though the forces breaking us apart are strong, our common bond of humanity is stronger. Before last Monday, I thought of the suffering in the Middle East and throughout the majority of third world countries as sad, but not devastating. The deaths of hundreds of people each day struck me as “sad”, simply because their pain was unrelatable. I had no idea what it was like to exist in constant fear that this day may very well be the last. Then, Boston was bombed.
I was in Paris at the time of the bombing, and tuned into the updates as much as I could. It was shocking, hearing that an event I’d celebrated since childhood had turned into a nightmare within a couple of minutes. Stories of runners crossing the finish line and continuing to run all the way to Massachusetts General Hospital to give blood to the wounded circulated, sparking my interest in the event. My family and I landed in Logan Airport safely Friday night, but seeing the flashing lights through the trees was terrifying. Questioning my safety for the first time felt unreal, until I realized that for millions, this mix of fear and anxiety was their reality. And now it was mine, at least for a couple of hours.
It was a few days later that I saw the picture on my newsfeed. A photo of a group of Syrians, a group of people bravely fighting for their freedom every day, who had taken time out of their day to support a small city across the world in a time of crisis. I realized that this type of comradery is what life is all about– supporting even those who seem the most unrelatable, because in the end, there is no us and them. There is only us. And the next time tragedy strikes in the middle east, I will send my condolences and my prayers, and maybe even make a sign.