Boston- Are Things Better Now Or Worse?

Guernica

I hope he is ok because if he is not I am not sure how I am going to explain it.

My son’s English teacher ran and completed the Boston Marathon today. When I heard about the bombing he was the first person I thought of.

I can’t say it was because we are friends because we aren’t. I mean, we aren’t enemies either but I only know him because of my son and since he was the only person I knew in the race it was a natural concern.

But I am obligated to confess that although I really did and do wish him well I was very concerned with what I would do if something happened. What do I tell my children about what happened?

How do I tell them about this and explain statistics and odds to them because the conversation will go there. They will ask me about Newtown and 9/11. They will mention that the other day was Holocaust Remembrance day and ask about that too.

What can I say? What do I tell my son who asked for a lock on his door because he needs privacy and because “it provides time to escape if someone with a gun shows up?

Hard Questions

I don’t spend much time trying to figure some of this stuff out. It is not because I am not interested, curious or thoughtful. All of those things are true but at the same time I recognize that some times there aren’t explanations¬† that make sense.

We can’t always put it in the box. The guy in Colorado who shot up the theater is mentally ill and so is the transient who dropped a Molotov Cocktail into a car.

In layman’s terms we call that crazy and sometimes that is enough for me. Those who commit acts of terror in the name of politics, well that is enough for me too.

Let me clarify, I don’t condone those actions. I don’t sanction them or give the perpetrators license to act in this fashion.

But the way I sleep at night is to put them in that box and to say that statistically speaking there is a much greater chance of bad things happening because of a drunk driver, car accident or because we trip over a toy.

It is a subjective, personal thing, this decision and way to make sense of the world. It doesn’t always work for everyone.

Things Are Not Worse

I do not believe things are worse now. I remember the Cold War and being told in school that Reagan and Brezhnev hated each other and that sooner or later there would be nukes.

I remember being a kid and hearing stories about terrorism all over the place. They murdered Israelis here and there, be careful because we are Jewish too. Planes are being hijacked and they are making movies about it.

BTW, I don’t remember hearing these things at home, the school yard was one hell of a source of information.

Anyway, I remember hearing not too long ago that there is less crime now than there was when I was a kid and that overall many things are safer.

I am convinced that the proliferation of information and the 24 hour news cycle have had an impact here. We hear everything as it happens and then enjoy a boatload of information about whatever just happened.

Information overload makes it feel/seem like things are worse.

My Job

I am responsible for helping to raise children who grow up to be productive and capable members of society. Part of that means giving them the tools and skills to do that.

That is not just food, clothing and housing. It is not just an education. It is confidence. It is teaching them how to deal with bad things when they happen and sometimes that may require stretching the truth a bit.

I truly don’t believe things are worse now. The population isn’t shrinking and I see no reason to believe my kids won’t survive their own childhood in spite of acting like fools who think they are invulnerable.

I did and you probably did too.

Kids do stupid things.I was no different and I expect my kids will help my hair turn grey or fall out. I do hope to be proven wrong about that.

But as a father I know my worst nightmare is that something might happen to them.

So it is hard not to be nervous and to want to wrap them in bubble wrap, but I won’t do that.

Life Finds A Way

Life finds a way. Wasn’t that a line in Jurassic Park?

Doesn’t matter, because it is true. Life finds a way.

People find a way.

What happened in Boston was tragic and I want the people who did it to pay, but I am not going to stop living or instruct my kids to stop. Life goes on and ultimately it doesn’t matter whether things are better or worse now.

What matters is how we live today.

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6 Comments

  1. Lori Gosselin April 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Josh,
    I remember when 911 happened being so concerned about my children, who were in school. I wondered how the teachers would handle it and part of me wanted to run to the school and scoop them out, particularly my son who was only twelve at the time.
    I don’t know how you handle so many things with your kids today. It’s so important to handle it correctly, too, and I wouldn’t know how.
    I think your kids are lucky to have a solid, sensible, logical dad.
    Lori

    • Josh April 17, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Hi Lori,

      I think we do our best to stay calm and reassure them that all is ok. If we lived in a place where there was open warfare each day it would be far harder than this, but now, it is ok.

      I don’t mean that it is great but I can look the kids in the eye and tell them that I don’t worry about these things because I really don’t. Statistically it is unlikely that we’ll ever have to deal with it and that is enough for me.

      As you know life is unpredictable, so I can’t say I will always be like this, but I hope to.

  2. Mary Stephenson April 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Josh

    Very well stated. It is tragic and hopefully whoever is responsible will get caught. We can worry ourselves sick and live in fear of ever leaving the house, but life goes on with or without us. There are many horrible things happening in other countries that also seem so unfair and tragic. But I think for the most part things are better than at another time in history. At least they don’t throw people to hungry lions and go watch. That in our eyes today is so barbaric. But places like North Korea prisons are horrific. They don’t hang people in this country for stealing a horse anymore. So, yeah I think things are better. It just bites when crazy or people with no empathy are able to do such terrible things. It shakes one’s soul up for sure.

    Mary

    • Josh April 17, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Hi Mary,

      Your point about life now versus in the past is well taken because there was a time when those sorts of barbaric things happened.

      Life isn’t perfect but when you look at things you see a world, especially in the US where things are pretty good. Sure we can point out all of the bad things and focus on all of the negatives.

      We can look at places in the cities where it is dangerous to walk and where bad things happen, but those aren’t the majority and there are solutions there.

      Most of us will never have to worry about being blown up or on a plane that is hijacked. There are more “mundane” worries such as getting hit by drunk driver or hurt because of texting and driving, but those are also things that don’t have to happen.

      The point is that we can’t live our lives in fear or we just don’t live.

  3. Call Me T April 16, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Thank you so much for that post, Josh. I have to tell you how much I appreciate now being able to share your perspective on things. While we can’t deny there is evil in the world–it’s shoved in our face all day via the media–we also have to look for the good, because it is here. The media loves a good story, even if it really isn’t, because it sells. Period. This is the Information Age, and we have to be able to sift through all the proverbial crap to find the gold nuggets of truth and wisdom as well as…well, Good. I agree with you that because of the media onslaught, our minds tend to focus on the bad and it seems to expand. While on the other side of that coin, I don’t think it’s necessarily wise to turn a blind eye, we do need to find the proper perspective and balance. It helps us maintain hope and strength.

    • Josh April 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Hi T,

      I think it is a particularly “interesting” time we live in. Dollars move media and that push means that our coverage isn’t what it could be.

      There is a push to get it out first and to get the most eyeballs and that doesn’t always translate into accurate and non sensationalistic coverage.

      I am realistic and want to look at things as they are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t search for the positive.

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