Take my word for it: Helpless and afraid

By From page A4 | April 17, 2013

The bombings in Boston on Monday have shaken us all up. While we wait for details on the who and the why, it’s hard not to feel anything but helpless and afraid.

Sure, there’s anger, which I’m personally sharing, despite having a lot less vested than relatives of victims, or the victims themselves. But the confusion is overriding that for me, personally. What’s next? Why there? What does this mean? What should we do?

All these questions lead inevitably to me worrying more than anything, and fearful for any and all of my American brethren. The east coast can seem so far away most days, but Monday, it felt like it was next door. The explosions could have been anywhere in the United States and caused the same ripple. We are one nation, and when our fellow Americans are harmed, we all feel it.

Yesterday, like on Sept. 11, 2001, we were reminded that we are vulnerable. This is a foreign concept for Americans; as the “big brother” we rarely feel like we have the weakness to be hit. Constantly threatened and always a target, we stand strong in the face of “terror” and push through without fear day by day, witnessing horrible atrocities across the world on the news and shaking our heads with a “that would never happen here.”

Then it does, and everything changes. Terrorists hijack planes and we go to war with Iraq and Afghanistan. A local gunman fires inside a school full of children and we reevaluate our entire methodology on gun control. Now someone bombs innocent bystanders of a sporting event and more fallout is sure to occur.

But this isn’t a column about gun control. It’s not about immigration. This isn’t even about the argument for or against our wars on foreign soil. Whether those causing terror are foreign or domestic, of which they’ve been both lately, this column is about us common folk, and how we deal with what has happened.

This was just another reminder that we are not immune. We are not completely safe. As a father, husband and a human being, I now feel fear. Sure, my macho pride screams, “I’d like to catch the guy that did this and let my fists do some talking,” but my heart hurts for the victims, and I’m afraid of this world I’m raising my kids in today. An 8-year-old boy died on Monday. As a sports fan excited to start taking my children to events, this is a shocking revelation. For all intents and purposes, that could have been my kid.

As we scoff and chuckle about North Korea’s threats, there’s a good chance that we have people planted within our own country that want to do their neighbors harm. For whatever reason, they’ve made it their goal to hurt us, and that makes it a risk to walk out the front doors of our homes on any given day. Yes, there’s a better chance of being harmed in a car accident every single day (which I’ve obviously realized with last week’s column), but I at least feel like I have control over part of that situation. Here, I just feel helpless.

In times like this, faith is the only thing comforting. Whether it be faith in a god, a government or humanity to protect us, we must find a way to overcome our fears and keep this country going. It’s what has made us so great in the past and what will continue to make us great well into the future.

Actor Patton Oswalt yesterday summed it up best for me:

“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 mess 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 … 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 a while, 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.’”

Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat. 

Patrick Ibarra

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