Transfixed. Mesmerized. Glued.
In the past week, peaking late last night and early this morning, the above words described my attention to breaking news out of Boston. It began with the horrific bombing in Boston, beloved to the nation as the cradle of liberty and crucible of education. Beloved to me and my family for the six wonderful years spent there in school and work.
Tied to Patriots Day, the “Bomb heard round the world,” killed and dismembered Boston Marathon fans and families in a brutal burst of evil. The events of last night and today in Watertown, where we lived for three years, initially shocked me into an almost trance-like disbelief.
Boston is a standstill. The video and photos remind me of a dystopian novel or movie where cities suddenly empty of humanity.
It is stunning the effect one person can have on the world. We are a planet of more than six billion human beings, and most days we lurch along in our individual pursuits with relatively little conflict or friction. At times, anger, ego or greed flare into arguments, violence and even warfare. But the actions of two obscure brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, alleged marathon bombers and natives of the Caucuses, illustrate how one or two people can seemingly shift the world’s axis in a matter of hours.
I mourn along with others the tragedies of the past week in Beantown, including most recently Sean Collier, the MIT police officer caught in the path of killers. Nevertheless, bright lights seem to pierce the gloom that surrounds us. Some examples:
1. Boston marathon heroes from The Atlantic Wire.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, mayhem ensued, and so did heroism. It is a testament to the resilience of Bostonians and the human spirit. Accounts abounded of marathoners rushing to Mass General to give blood, New England Patriots players carrying people to safety, and strangers and professionals, like in the photo below, helping an injured man to help.
2. Bostonians staying home when asked.
New Englanders aren’t huge fans of being told what to do, so the entire city staying home is a big, big deal. Boston.com offers a host of remarkable photos that capture the moment in Boston.
Here’s a photo of the Boston Commons, empty:
Beacon Hill streets empty.
3. Law enforcement.
In the face of certain danger, police from the region rushed to join the manhunt last night and since. In pursuit of the suspects, they encountered gunfire, explosions and chases. For hours now, they have pursued urban combat tactics going door to door trying to find and capture the suspect. Heroism everywhere.
In tribute to Sean Collier, someone has placed a U.S. flag to memorialize his fall.
Police search through Watertown, MA
4. Media, new and old, rushing to share the story.
A frenzied blend of broadcast and cable tv networks, Twitter, Reddit, live stream broadcasts, radio, texting carried this massive story to the world. People, professionals and concerned citizens formed a remarkable ecosystem of information that updated the world by the second.
Transfixed. Mesmerized. Glued.