Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I never claimed to like running. In fact, I’ve been quite vocal (around friends and family) of how much I hated it – uttered after I’d gone for a run that morning or just prior to a late evening run. When I injured my right foot two years ago, I had to stop running. I started other types of exercise, experimenting which made my foot ache worse than others. And I didn’t miss it all that much. I saw doctors, one doing an MRI then telling me I needed to wear orthopedic shoes (ha!), all for princely sums of money. But after making me wait for two hours one day, only to release me, I immediately left the doctor’s office, donned my running clothes and tennis shoes and ran. I ran through pain and heat and anger and came out the other side, sated in a way, but realizing how much I’d missed that hated exercise. I think of a Nike pitch scene from the film What Women Want,
one I’ve always thought captured running well, that describes running as an act almost of defiance of the self. As Jen at the Well Read Fish said in her post
this morning, “I don’t run to protest anything. I don’t run to put others down. I don’t run to oppress. I don’t run to prove a point.” Running is intensely personal, so personal that the motivations for running a marathon can range from obsession to need to ambition.
When I read CharlesPierce’s piece in Grantland, it struck me when he talks about how the runners in the Boston Marathon had “already traumatized their bodies over 26 hours” that there is an exquisite pain in running but that the pain is immediately followed with a joy so intense, some term it runner’s euphoria.
And that running yesterday was stymied. The pacing and release of the run turned to running in fear, in anguish, in desperation. Some ran to find family. Others ran to tear down the barriers keeping the crowd from the runners, running again to aid the wounded, the shocked, the dying. Still others ran to the hospital to donate blood, taxing their bodies even further and showing up in such large numbers that they were turned away.
I hate everything about these incidents of mass violence in our society. I hate the death and pain – literal and figurative – that they inflict. I hate the fear they instill in each of us, in ways large and small. But I also hate the products of that fear. Seeing the reports that a Saudi national, here on a student visa, was questioned, made me near ill, as I have taught Saudi nationals here on student visas, students so amazingly kind and wonderful that just last week, one brought me a box of 60 (!!) granola bars as thanks for editing a letter for her. I hate, too, our desire to deconstruct the use or avoidance of terms like terrorism, when in reality, people were terrorized yesterday, and though that may not fit the FBI’s definition of terrorism, it works for me. Today, the terror many felt has turned into horror as the shock subsides and the reality sets in.
I want a kinder world. Yes, there have been moments of bravery and love and generosity. Even Twitter was a more watchful, cautious tool than it has been in the midst of more recent crises, as The Signal Watch points out so well. But that we’re learning to adapt and move forward warily doesn’t stop my desire for kindness in its largest sense. The who, why, and how doesn’t matter nearly as much to me in this moment because the answers to those questions won’t change what has happened. And as Craig Ferguson said on his show last night, “I just can’t not think about it.” And I suspect I’ll try and fail to not think about it tonight as my feet pound the pavement.