Not Easy Things

Today I turned on NPR and heard Tom Ashbrook talking to Dennis Lehane and Ray Maliozzi (otherwise know as one of the “Car Guys”) about Boston, their hometown. This was funny (not HaHa funny, but you know…) because I’d been thinking a lot about Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day since Monday, when a friend who had been manning a water stand along the marathon route posted a Facebook update that alerted me to the unfolding situation in Boston.

The Given Day is about one of the most turbulent times in Boston’s history, the early 20th century. The Boston police strike of 1919 resulted in several nights of looting and rioting. And, of course, we’ve all learned about things like the Boston Massacre and the of course the battle of Lexington and Concord, which Patriots’ Day commemorates.

As I listened to Lehane this morning I learned about an editorial he’d written in the New York Times. “Messing with the Wrong City” put into words something I’ve always thought about not just Bostonians, but New Englanders in general: “Bostonians don’t love easy things, they love hard things — blizzards, the bleachers in Fenway Park, a good brawl over a contested parking space.”

We don’t love easy things.

If we did, we’d move somewhere with better weather. We would root for a baseball team that didn’t break our hearts year after year.

But as I thought about not easy things, I thought beyond New England and even America. I thought about images like this one:

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Which led me to think about images like this one (which was one of the least bloody and disturbing I could find):

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Lately, as Americans are being hit with one tragedy after another, I’ve been thinking a lot about how lucky we are that, though horrible, these things aren’t the norm. How lucky we are that we can be shocked and surprised when these things happen, because in many places violence and dead children are a daily fact of life — and our government is often not too far removed (if at all) from that violence. So, while we think about the victims of our latest tragedy, can we also think about the people who live with this kind of terror and violence every day?

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