Michael Jackson, Staff Writer
My job through “Cheers and Jeers” and “Permission to Laugh” has been to entertain through writing about the funny things (or at least what I perceive as funny things) that occur on campus and in life. Yet, sometimes we require a more sincere reflection on life events. This column, of course, comes in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past Monday, April 15, 2013. In the early evening I messaged my friend Michael, who I knew was likely at the marathon, to see if he was okay. He posted that he had been 50 yards from the site of the second detonation. He said that he was completely intact, but it was the others he had spent several hours helping who were not doing so well. People were bloody and many were missing pieces and parts. My friend found a family—a father, a son and a daughter who were in terrible condition. The father had been shocked from the blast, and he instantly lost his hearing. The little girl ran with Michael away from the blast, but she was complaining that her leg hurt. Both she and her brother had suffered catastrophic leg injuries so gruesome that Michael did not want to even detail.
The response to such heinous acts as these justifiably ranges from agonizing grief to unmatched hatred and anger. We of course ask who could do this, and even more obviously, why would they do this? We likely will not know the answer to these questions for some time, but we will know the true extent of our humanity and the love of those around us. In moments such as these, and there have been far too many already in recent years, we are reminded of what is actually important. Notice that there was no discussion in the aftermath of what style of clothes people were wearing, what phone models they had, or how much money was in their pockets. What it boils down to is that we share in our flesh, blood, and most especially, in our fleeting life on this planet. We are not white or black, Latino or Asian, or Red Sox fans or Yankees fans. We are all struggling human beings. With family in Boston and as Red Sox follower, I know that I was most moved by the tribute at Yankee Stadium that evening that a ribbon featuring the clubs’ logos together was displayed on the scoreboard and outside the stadium. It was a gesture of compassion and a reminder of our humanity and struggle together. The Chicago Tribune also posted a section on its sports page with the lines ‘We Are Chicago Red Sox, Chicago Celtics, Chicago Bruins, Chicago Patriots, and Chicago Revolution.” Such signs indicate that life is and will always be more than a box score or the outcome of a game.
The father of the 8-year old boy killed in the blast put it best when he asked for prayers as his family simultaneously grieves and recovers. The call to prayer is not something to be sloughed off as a mere sign of sympathy. In prayer we will seek to grieve well, to recover well, and to help others recover well. We will help ourselves and others to do this through the small joys and even difficulties of daily life—through laughter, tears and love for each other. This is why you always have permission to laugh, permission to cry, permission to be yourself, and permission to be fully human.
Michael Jackson is a contingent being and can be reached at email@example.com.