One of the most heartening aspects of the dreadful events that have unfolded in Boston over the past week and a half has been the visibly great strength of the human reaction to other human beings in distress. News stories captured the heroism of individuals who ran towards the blast rather than away, to tend those critically injured; tales abounded of runners who discovered an almost superhuman determination to overcome exhaustion in the last few kilometres so that they could aid the rescue effort. Runners professed that they would not be beaten, and that out of solidarity with those injured they would run even harder in London a week later; and the packed streets of London spoke of this immense force, with human beings standing – figuratively – shoulder-to-shoulder with their distant cousins across the ocean. They were humans together, any difference transcended by the unity they found in opposing a twisted evil.
One of the most moving stories I heard was of the reaction of Bostonians on hearing of the blast, and the subsequent inevitable transport upheaval that followed. More than 4000 local citizens put their names and contact details into an online spreadsheet containing offers of accommodation and transport to help out visitors who had nowhere to stay. In another context, we would have chastised them for placing their privacy at risk; in another context, too, it probably would not even have crossed their minds to do so. But they did so because they were prompted by a basic human instinct to reach out to those in need – to care, to help, to heal.
The Boston bombings showed the worst and the best of humanity – wanton disregard for human life and ultimate regard for the same. On a scorecard, the regard and care far outweighed the other, and that is what was so inspiring about the aftermath of the event. Human beings have an amazing capacity to care for each other, and we are hardwired to do so. We do not show it often enough, but the fact that we show it when it matters reminds us of how inter-linked we all are as a human race. It inspired hope for the future of humanity; let us capture these moments and build on them.