Healing Strategies

I live right near Boston’s Logan Airport so my main Marathon experience happens just before and after the race, when my normally sedate T (subway) line fills up with hundreds of incredibly skinny, fit, and exuberant people from all over the world who have flown in to take part. I was out of town when the bombing happened, and can only imagine what the post-race T crowds headed back to the airport must have looked like. Marathoning is such a pure and wholesome endeavor; I wish all the marathoners well, and hope (believe) that the incredible skills, dedication, and perseverance that brought them to the point where they could run a 26.2 mile race will get them past this week’s horrible trauma.

So what can people do to heal? The currently popular WWII English mantra “Keep calm and carry on” is useful, to a point. But a bit too passive. Better advice is to take active steps to regain your perspective:

1) Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts offered free admission on

Tuesday. Don’t know if they’re still doing it, but a little beauty and history can be healing.

2) Fred “Mr.” Rogers’ advice to, “Look for the helpers.” is justly popular. The quote continues: “You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

3) Blogger John Cole suggests refraining from what he calls “disaster porn” in the media. His whole post is typically brilliant as he reminds us that both the depraved elements of our media and the authoritarian / militaristic elements of our government thrive on scaring us, and concludes, “The bomber(s) isn’t the only one who wants you to be afraid. Remember that.”

4) Here’s Comedian Patton Oswalt’s amazing Facebook update, which has now gone viral:

Boston. Fucking horrible.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

5) Finally, the best advice of all was said by labor organizer Joe Hill nearly a hundred years ago. Framed for a murder he did not commit, and about to be executed by firing squad, he told his confederates, “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize…”

It may seem like a lot, to ask grief sticken people to get out and do something. But it’s a form of taking back your power, and incredibly healing both to us and others. If everyone reading this could take a small step toward creating a more just and equitable society – even just writing a letter to the editor, or making a small donation, or doing a bit of activism or volunteer work, things will improve.

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