Thursday, April 18, 2013

Awful Events in Boston Remind Us of Mortality

On Monday afternoon, another tragedy befell a great American city.

You know the details by now.  A deadly terror attack at the Boston Marathon killed three and left many more with serious injuries, some critical. 

For those victims and their families, the lives they lived prior to the moment that first bomb went off will from now on be just memories. Nothing I say in this blog post will ease their pain or in any way contribute to the conversations that are going on in their heads. They lived this tragedy firsthand..

For the rest of us, the mantra is, as we have heard before, "Keep calm and carry on."  I am not the first blogger or writer to see the connection between this motto and what happened in Boston, and I am sure that I won't be the last.  I did come to this on my own accord after thinking deeply about the events of Monday.  I didn't read any articles on it prior to me coming to this revelation or writing most of this blog post.  While my thoughts are not unique, they are my own.

"Keep Calm and Carry On," is a motto developed by the British Government during the preparation for World War II that was essentially never used and sat undiscovered until relatively recently.  The remarkable thing is that even as bad as World War II got in London with months-long bombing raids by the Axis forces and the Luftwaffe, the spirit of the people of London was unbreakable. The government didn't need the motto because it was ingrained inside.  As humans, we owe it to ourselves to not let our spirits be broken by heinous terrorist attacks.

The fact is that we all live with knowledge of our own mortality. I am no exception.  With every fat-filled Sausage Egg McMuffin that I willing consume, I know that I am likely contributing to the possibility that later in life I will pay for it. That said, my end could come sitting at this computer keyboard when a meteorite breaks through the roof and strikes me down. If you are still reading this, it didn’t. Thank God. Fact is that we don’t know when and where or how we will all die, but we know that we are a hearty but fragile species and very mortal.  We will someday be no more.

Knowing that one day you will die has scared the bejeesus out of people for years.  I know that I love life so much that I will carry on and keep calm. We can’t stop living because we fear the end of our mortal life. We have to keep calm and carry on. We must keep breathing. We must keep living. We must keep trusting one another while taking the necessary precautions to preserve our lives and those lives of the ones we love.

When I was a teenager, I accompanied a friend of mine to get gas for a lawn mower. My back was turned when a car came barreling through the gas station. My friend saw the car coming and alerted me. That warning made me aware that a car was coming through too quickly, and I moved in the nick of time. Had my friend not warned me, I perhaps wouldn’t be here today. That was the first time I remember thinking, “I could have been killed.”  As it stood, the car passed by harmlessly, and I have lived 20+ more years and more brushes with mortality here and there...most of which I likely wasn't aware of.

Who knows what the the three victims of Monday's attack were thinking as those bombs went off or if they even got a chance to address their own mortality before passing away.  All three were young ranging in age from eight to 29. Far too young. They, as they say, had their entire lives ahead of them. We continue to mourn their loss. This is the definition of senseless.  

As we rush to make sense of it all, it’s important to remember that some things make no sense to us. That’s why many of us believe in a higher power because that allows us to at least think that someone or something knows why these horrible things happen.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any of them. I just know that the old motto from World War II still holds on and is still as fresh today as it was all those years ago. We must keep calm and carry on not because the terrorists will win if we don’t but because we will personally lose out on a full life if we don’t.

My mortality keeps me calm and carrying on.  I don't want to miss a minute of life, and I most certainly won't be scared out of it.

UPDATE:
As I write this, details of the huge explosion at the fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas continues to pour in.  The entire town will be forever changed by this awful tragedy.  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in West, Texas.  

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