Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A post that wasn't, but then was: Finding the positives in humanity

I wasn't going to write this post. I was going to sit quiet for a few days, allow the horror of Monday's Boston marathon events to settle down, and hope for a gradual return to normality. I figured you didn't need another blog post, Twitter update or Facebook comment about what happened. I'm sure we all feel the same. It is awful. There are no words.

And yet, here is this post. I guess I couldn't not. To not say something seemed, somehow, worse than saying anything.

So I'm going to say it. I am angry. Horrified. Upset. Sad. Grieved. Angry. Confused. Lost for reasons, for understanding. And did I mention angry?

I am really angry.

To me, and to many others, the Boston marathon sums up so much of what makes humanity great. It doesn't matter if you're a runner or not, or if you're American or not - it is an event of community spirit, of endurance, of effort, of support, of triumph, and of perseverance. It is a multinational running event known the world over. It is something great. To have that interrupted and shattered...we lose part of what makes humanity good, and we gain something that makes humanity terrible.

So I am sad, and shocked, and angry. I am sending thoughts to those affected. I am also sending thoughts to you, in case you're sad and shocked and angry too.

As for me, I can't help but contrast the news images (such awful news images) with my memories from the weekend. The running world is a good one. I have never been to a running event where the atmosphere isn't supportive, encouraging, and enjoyable. To have this happen so soon after my experience of's all wrong.

I decided to write this post because I don't want to let it be wrong. If I stop with anger, sadness and grief - then the people who do ugly things have their way. I don't want to give up on humanity. I don't want to believe that is what our world has become.

I can't turn the anger, sadness and grief off, but I can tell you what is making me smile in spite of those things.

Here they are.

  • A study I work with sending a phone app to 23-year-old participants, in order to help them find their local post box. The participants had been given reply paid envelopes in which to return study questionnaires, but were asking for guidance on where to post them. Really!

  • Meeting my new Aussie Farmer's Direct local deliverer. He took the time to knock on the door when delivering our produce box last week, and was late enough to catch me after arriving home from work. I think he had been stopping at all houses on his route to introduce himself, adding hours to his delivery time.

  • Thinking that our oven was broken, and then being relieved to find it wasn't.

  • Leaving Perth last Saturday with a complete building nearby, and returning on Sunday afternoon to find it fully demolished. The demolition was planned, but we weren't expecting it to happen quite so quickly.

  • Receiving an email from the Australian director of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze milk, in response to my post on carrageenan. I've updated the post in question to reflect that exchange. He initially cited the safety of food-grade carrageenan, but after I pointed out the contamination issues with degraded carrageenan in food-grade samples, he indicated that he would look into the issue further and discuss with his American colleagues. I can't say how happy that makes me, even if no change ultimately happens.

  • My English family singing the praises of the British National Health service, after my grandfather had major heart surgery last week (he is recovering well). It's a nice change from the usual grumbles that we often direct towards government-funded services.

  • Seeing pictures of the first baby born to one of my cousins on my mother's side. My oldest Canadian cousin and his wife have a new baby girl. She looks very cute.

  • Watching the Top Gear trio drive through Africa. Much laughter.

  • Hearing of developments in 'our' London area. They are building a new leisure centre with an indoor climbing wall.

  • Hearing that those I know in the Boston area are okay.

  • This comic:

So that's my take on life this week. Among the horror, there are still things that make me have hope for humanity and for life. They don't always seem enough, but I'm going to cling to them.

If you are affected directly or indirectly by the Boston events, I am thinking of you and send you every well wish.

I am also thinking of all those affected by the (non-man made) earthquake in Iran.


  1. It is truly horrible, and we do always need to remember the positives when things are so ugly in life...

  2. xoxoxoxox

    P.S. I'm 25 (okay, almost 26) but I can immediately tell you a dozen places in both Canberra AND Toronto from which to post a letter. That study's 23-year-olds are... NOT THE NORM. Or I'm not the norm. Hmm...

    1. Those extra 2 (nearly 3!) years you have must make all the difference ;)

  3. It is sad that people can be so mean :-(
    Its hard we all feel so affected by these things even when we aren't really anywhere near them :-/
    Glad you have things to be happy about though :-)

    1. I think in weeks like these, it's even more important to find the things that can possibly be happy.

  4. I'm originally from New England and it was tough to watch the news from Boston. You are right that we should take stock and count the good things. They will far outweigh the bad.

    1. Seeing the footage when you're actually from that region - I can't even imagine that. I hope everyone you know in the area is ok?

  5. A study to help people find their local post box? Really and truly?!!
    Loved reading all the things making you smile this week. When so many other things are going on in this world and its incredibly comforting to think of the good things as well.

    1. Well, the study wasn't actually for that, but it turned out post box identification had to become part of it!

      And thank you - your post this week did the same for me :-)

  6. that is a great list to bring a little light into dark times. I am not a runner but still thought that maiming as well as killing people at an event where peak physical fitness is so valued seemed particularly brutal - I am sure it will make runners even more determined to celebrate the good things about running.

    As for your list, I laughed about the post boxes - I still post stuff from time to time but I think that it is partly due to having family overseas. I have helped sylvia post cards as thank yous sometimes because it is good to learn to do because no one ever puts an email or a text on their mantlepiece! So many other good things in your list. Glad your grandfather is recovering well. And it is nice to have a personal touch with Aussie Farmers Direct and Almond Breeze. I was just talking to a friend yesterday who sent a complaint and got no response. So the almond breeze response sounded heartening.

    1. It really was heartening - such a rare and lovely experience (or not completely rare but not common enough!). I'm glad you are teaching Sylvia about cards and post as I do think it's a great thing to get a letter or card in the mail sometimes.

      Thanks for the wishes for my grandfather too - he's off home today, which us fantastic.


I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook ( and Twitter (