Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Go Boston

I don’t know enough yet about what happened at the Boston Marathon. It’s either that, or I know too much. I know a sweet little boy named Martin died. A college student died. Mrs. Campbell’s Krystle child died. I read that two brothers who attended together, just at the wrong place, both had amputation injuries. I watched the initial film clips, one over and over where one of the runners next to the blast had his legs collapse under him.

“Somebody help that man,” I murmur every time I see that video of 78-year-old  Bill Iffrig. I learned he is all right and he spoke to the news people, a little stunned that after all he just got knocked off his feet instead of the much worse injuries suffered by others who were not exactly in focus.

Some wonderful, amazing people did help those around them who were hurt. There are photos showing them and the people terribly injured. We are all stunned. I say that then realize that there is someone, somewhere out there, at least one person who is not stunned. There is someone who thought it should happen something like this. There was intent. There was intent, apparently, to do more harm than this.

I can’t help but want the good people to get more attention than the bad people. I want the hospital employees and the rescue professionals and the event organizers and the passers-by, the police and other investigative bodies who have worked since the moment of the first blast to have heroes’ welcomes and their names written in history. I can’t help but want the people who worked carefully to create cheap and deadly chaos to be erased from history, to have their own sympathizers turn on them, to be overwhelmed with the enormity of this sin that they bring themselves to justice.

Running isn’t just an individual sport although it can be solitary. Marathons aren’t solitary. There are runners, marathoners, “endurers” as Rachel Maddow calls them.

Cousin Patti’s husband Bob is a runner. Bob’s family has more than one runner. They make a family event of their marathons. They have a rhythm of practice, of attendance, of celebration, of food, of community all marathon-centered. They compete but define winning their own way, as marathoners can. Few compete for the first place title. Most compete to conquer their past timings or just the 26 miles themselves. Most run because they run. It’s what they do.

Some tarot readers define the 5 of Wands as a negative card and you might view the vigor and seeming disorganization as threatening or mean. I don’t usually. It might be part of my own orientation to competition in games. When I look at it, I see competitors trying their skills against worthy opponents in the field of sport, not battle. They share a common passion for the activity they are thoroughly engaged in. They have a tacit agreement to participate and test their skills. They may define their own “personal win” differently but they are likely to agree on an overall winner. They are likely to want to come back and try again. Are they mean? I don’t think so. They are participating to win, not half-hearted, ho-hum energy. But part of the agreement among the competitors is that the competition is not a life-and-death event.

Alternatively, the 5 of Swords is the true zero-sum game. This is the victor and the vanquished. This isn’t a friendly competition. This is the meaningful attack with the intent, not to prove one’s abilities, but to crush an enemy.

In one of my classes at Readers Studio one year, I had a chance to really spend some time with the 5 of Swords. Despite his smirk, the “winner” does not look any happier than the “losers”. Some look to the other characters in the card to say the apparent winner ends up losing in the end; the losers end up winning. Somehow I’d like to think so. The winner gathers up the swords of ideas and conflict and takes them with him, alone. He has lost friends, people, trust, love and perhaps even touch with reality, all for the gathering of swords.

The marathon is an example of the 5 of Wands, the field of play to test one’s mettle. The act of terror is an example of the 5 of Swords, somehow an idea to make a statement of violence and power.

With the 5 of Wands, we can decide we don’t want to compete anymore; the better competitors may seem too intense for those less competitive. Competition can seem unkind because it does leave some behind as competition is eliminated. But almost everyone agrees that the players can come back and try again tomorrow, if they want to.

With the 5 of Swords, however, the intent is different, not sporting, but power driven, with the intent to do harm to one’s opponents for a “permanent” victory. An idea triumphs over another. An argument is won and lost. Someone exercises violence for gain of…something. War is waged.

I checked with my friends who work in Boston today. Their offices are near the blast point. For safety, they worked from home today. I was happy to learn they were not injured.

The many professionals who track down criminals are very, very focused and motivated to find those who did this. When they find them--when, not if--it will not necessarily feel like victory, no more, perhaps, than putting out the trash on Wednesday night.

But the marathoners will be back, because the spirit of community and celebration of joy and the love for those maimed or lost cannot, will not be beaten, even by the evil done this week.

Go Boston.

Best wishes.

1 comment:

  1. It's made me think once again about good vs. evil, and how it played out at the Boston Marathon. SO MANY people stepped up to help strangers.

    You might remember that Stanford Prison Experiment, where they got "volunteers" to be prisoners and guards. The guards were encouraged to be cruel to the prisoners, and became so awful so quickly that they had to stop the experiment. Well the man who ran that experiment turned to studying what makes people heroes.

    His conclusion was just as evil can become banal, and if we see others doing evil we're more inclined to join in, the reverse is true. All it takes is one person to step up and be a hero, and others will follow. Maybe that's what happened in Boston. He did a great presentation on Prezi about the jouney from evil to good here: