I don’t want to write about Boston and yet I do. It’s what’s on my mind as well as everyone else’s and sometimes we need outlets to channel the negativity, the despair, and the grief.
I have shied away from going to certain destinations because of unrest. When choosing a vacation destination in 2010 after finishing my teaching contract, I knew southeast Asia was the place to go. Indonesia seemed particularly attractive, yet the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings gave me pause. Sure, I’d already made a trip to North Korea, but that seemed less volatile than extremist bombings. I passed up Bali and settled on Malaysia and Singapore.
And yet, I visited Boston just a few weeks ago and these bombings don’t make me any less likely to visit Beantown or to discourage others from going there. When dangerous events happen close to home or in familiar territory, we absorb the shock and life goes on. When dangerous events happen in places we have never been, we stigmatize that place as being unsafe and strike it from the list of places we’d ever want to visit.
We live in a wide world. Emphasis on live. We shouldn’t limit the choices we make because of perceived risk, however infinitesimal. The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack worldwide are 1 in 9.3 million. The odds of dying from heart disease are 1 in 5. Which is the bigger threat? Which sleeps in your bed at night? Which do you have control over?
Anything can happen to anyone at any time—a car accident, a slip in the shower, a brain aneurysm, a lottery win, a casino windfall, a random act of kindness, a double rainbow sighting. The world is an uncertain place, as it always has been and will continue to be. The events in Boston are a reminder to live expansively, to not cower, to persist in moving forward. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.