Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Move along (and moving on)


boston.crime_.tape_While I’m no longer alternating between crying and staring blankly into space, it’s still too soon for me to go back to my default setting of trying to amuse. Instead, I’ve been wrestling with how much the bombings at last week’s Boston Marathon affected me versus how little I care about the many horrible things that happen elsewhere around the world on a regular basis. And this makes me feel pretty terrible about myself.

I cut down my Internet time considerably over the weekend to give myself a break from how horrible everything (possibly including myself) is, but podcasts stop for no man, and one actually made me feel a little better. Terry Gross, who hosts a long-running interview program on NPR (kind of an American BBC), spoke with Charlie Sennott, a Boston-born reporter who’s been all over the world and covered military conflicts, wars and disasters of various kinds. Here are the things he said that actually made me start to breathe easier (emphasis mine):

Patriots’ Day is a day in Boston that is the best day in Boston, when it seems like there’s almost always good weather and we have the Red Sox playing and the Marathon is such a great tradition, proud sense of history, the anniversaries of the battles in Concord and Lexington and you think, this is this pageant of just life, and a great city. And I think when we – when we saw these events unfold, I started to really ask myself why does it feel so different that these victims have a Boston accent?

This is different and I think it is different because suddenly you realize that every time you cover a bombing, it’s someone’s hometown. And I think this bombing has reminded me of that, that maybe we’ve covered so many bombings over so much time, in Belfast, in Pakistan, Oklahoma City, Jerusalem, Kabul, Madrid, London – maybe all of this somehow gets you at some point inured to the meaning of it for the people who have gone through it, and it’s a horrible shock to Boston. It’s a tough, resilient town, but it’s a reminder to me as a journalist from here that we’ve got to bring that same emotion, as much as we can, every time, everywhere in the world, because wherever a bombing happens, it’s someone’s hometown.

You can listen to the full interview here or read just the transcript here.

We’ll see if I can get up to my regular shenanigans later this week. (Thankfully tomorrow’s post was planned ages ago.)

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

7 thoughts on “Move along (and moving on)

  1. Thanks for this…It is a great comment from the reporter. It does make me feel better too though Boston isn’t my hometown and I don’t know anyone there, I do agree with him.

    • I frequently need things to be put into perspective for me since I sometimes don’t look at the big picture. Sennott is a good writer and reporter and worth following, news-wise. “Fresh Air” (the radio show) is also a good source for thoughtful conversations about a wide range of topics. I only download the stuff that interests me, but they have something for everyone. h

      PS. Not much terrorism in Canada, is there? Am I forgetting something? How can you all be so peaceable? It’s disconcerting!

      • You are right, there isn’t much terrorism in Canada as no one knows we exist or even care about us. We aren’t a superpower. We have had shootings by mad men killing a bunch of people a few times but not as often as in the US.

        However earlier this week, the RCMP (Canadian police) has arrested two people who apparently were planning to put a bomb on a train going from Toronto to New York. I am certain the target was the US but the plot was being hatched in Canada!!!

  2. I’ve been reading a lot of comments over the past week indicating that we should *not* react so strongly to what happened in Boston because worse things happen on a daily basis all over the world…and I think that’s completely unfair. It doesn’t matter how many people died or how “bad” this past week was in any sense – it’s close to home, so it’s going to hit close to home emotionally for Americans. That’s just how humans work. And blame the media if you want, but it’s not something that we’re used to seeing, so it’s a shock regardless of how comparatively invested you are in other global events. Anyway, I really don’t think you should feel terrible about not feeling terrible all of the time. That would be a tough (and sad) standard of living to maintain :)

    • Thanks for this, Sam. After resurfacing from my self-imposed Internet break, I saw all the other horrible things that happened in the interim and realized that we can’t all be empathic all the time. It’s just too much for any one person to take. h

  3. SAM said it well, even better than the journalist. There’s no need to feel bad about being human. Also, after Sandy Hook, someone (quoting Mr Rogers?) said the key is to “look for the helpers” who respond in a crisis. In Boston, there were people who people ran toward the wounded instead of running away. That is a reminder of the good in people and focusing on that helps keep these events from dragging is down.

    • As you know, I’m not generally emotional (about anything, really) so my strong reaction was followed by my own incomprehension of how I cared so much. I’m still trying to sort all my thoughts into their corresponding boxes in my brain, but hearing that I’m not alone and normal (in this instance, at least) is reassuring. Whatever motivated the people who ran *into* the bombs is way beyond me. The pat thing to say is that they’re heroes, but they’re also kinda crazy, right? Basic animal survival dictates that you run away from such stuff. h

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