In some small way, this article, written by Bruce Clark, expresses my feelings on the Boston Marathon bombing.
“I wrote this at the request of Pieter Malan, the editor of the Rapport Weekliks.
It appeared in yesterday’s copy. The link is at the bottom. Below is my original english version. It was translated for me by a very talented person at Rapport.
On Monday 15th April, on Patriot’s Day, in Boston, a lunatic announced his or herself. The announcement itself was typical of madmen. With no concern for the resulting carnage, a homemade bomb was detonated near the end of a marathon. The target was no corporate giant, no symbolic building, no head of state, no particular race, colour or creed. The target was people’s happiness. In a single second, tens of millions of people were outraged, many thousands were severely traumatised, hundreds were critically injured, and several were dead. For the runners and spectators in the vicinity of the bomb, the result was apocalyptical. A running shoe, still with a human leg in it, flew through the air; a man saw his family all but wiped out in front of his eyes; an innocent eight-year-old boy was murdered; two siblings each lost a leg; the list of horror goes on and on.
For me, thousands of miles away with only Twitter to rely on, and no alternative news coverage, it was an awful but uplifting experience. Long before the politicians began reading their scripts, the public was already speaking. ‘Why must we mourn Americans when Syrians are dying every day?’, ‘Why do American tragedies get televised when others are ignored?’ were words that appeared, briefly, on my phone’s small screen before being swamped by scorn from all corners of the world. The smallest running club in the furthest corner of the world all tried to get their message of support across: ‘How can we help?’ I lay on my bed, with tears in my eyes, and watched the marvelous people of Boston, America, and the World, swing into action.
I speak entirely for myself when I say this, but the reason for this orgy of destruction is of no interest to me; I am beyond rage, way beyond contempt, and well into the realm of cold disinterest. The ‘whys’ of these madmen should never see the light of day; we – the rational world – should block our ears and divert our eyes when the first, ‘I did it because of…’ is articulated. Whatever grudge, or whatever flame of discontent these people harbour, they do not deserve one puff of oxygen we may unintentionally blow their way. This barbaric and cowardly act deserves two things: swift justice and our eternal silence; that is all. Nothing more, nothing less.
I am a runner. I always have been and, health willing always will be. I do not need to paraphrase the saying made famous in the immediate aftermath of 9/11: ‘today we are all runners,’ because I am already one. I can say without fear of contradiction that even measured against the scale of madness, the bomber, or bombers, got this completely, utterly, and spectacularly, wrong. Running is the sport of peace and, in runners across the globe; you have a giant army of passionate pacifists. Our army is everywhere, in every single part of the world; it cuts across, and makes a mockery of, every single false distinction you care to mention – or dare to make up.
I have no beef with other sports, or the many friends I have made who participate in those sports, but it’s not even vaguely close. The beautiful game? I think not. Two teams in opposition where their supporters gather hoping the other team lose. If it’s such a beautiful game, why are spectators kept separate by wire? Why the police dogs? You do not need to protect runners from runners. Rugby? Cricket? Golf? Cycling? Swimming? Each of them – to a greater or lesser extent – with a financial, mechanical, geographic, socio-economical filter preventing others joining in; each of them, in their own way, an elitist sport.
Running is the sport of the humble and the sport of the poor. Poor in bling and glamour but not in substance. In the field of human recreation, you will not find a better metaphor for life than running. With the soles of our feet planted firmly on the spinning rock we inhabit, we have been indulging in this most simple of pleasures since the dawn of time. Initially running without knowing we were running; stumbling with toothless smiles towards a maternal form waiting for us with open arms; on and on through years continuously going through the process of leaving and arriving and dealing with whatever happens in between. We were running long before we learned to judge and long, long before we learned to hate.
If you care to stand at the end of a running race – particularly a marathon – I will tell you what you will see. You will see more concentrated kindness than in any other sport. In no other sport is it so common to be physically picked up be a fellow athlete and helped to the finish. In no other sport will so many spectators endure hours of discomfort just to encourage people they don’t know – and never will. I absolutely guarantee that if you stand at the finish line of a marathon you will see snapshots of human nature, which will enrich your life. In numbers far beyond any other sport you will find the most racially, politically, sexually, economically diverse group of people imaginable; they will be standing next to each other, empty handed, rubbing shoulders, and engaging in that fine human quality of talking and, the even better one, of listening.
I have not had the pleasure of running the Boston Marathon but I have run many others. I have stood in the starting pens of the Comrades Marathon twenty times and have crossed the finish line eighteen times. I am often asked why I keep going back; I’m not getting any younger and I am most definitely not getting any faster. My answer is quick and simple: I return every year because the winding stretch of tar between Pietermaritzburg and Durban brings out the very best in me, and very best in my fellow runners, and the very best in the hundreds of thousands of spectators we see along the way. For a few shared hours we live in the caring world, as we would like it to be.
One bomb, two bombs, a thousand bombs. It will cause us to shed rivers of tears for our fellow humans but it will not change us. They will not turn us into them. They will not steal our smile. The center will hold.”