In May of 1999, I accepted an old friend's invitation to come up to Boston and see if it was a place I liked after I'd complained to him I needed a change. After the semester ended, I caught a plane and headed up for what I thought would be a summer from home, nothing more. Instead, Boston was my home until August of 2008. It's where I became active in theater, where I started this comic (as well as serving as the comic's primary setting until 2007 I split the cast between Texas and Massachusetts), and it's where I met some people who became some of the closest friends I could ever want.
As most of you know, there were two explosions yesterday during the Boston marathon. For those unaware of how important the marathon is, the whole city shuts down as runners from across the world show up for the race. April 15th was also a holiday in Massachusetts - Patriot Day, which honors the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Schools close, businesses let out, and most of the city is at the marathon.
A lot of you have contacted me to ask how I'm doing, not knowing I moved from Boston almost five years ago. I appreciate your concern. I am still taking stock of my friends in Massachusetts, but so far it seems like every one I know is okay if understandably rattled.
When tragedies strike, from the attack on the Twin Towers to the Fukishima Daiichi disaster in Japan two years ago, there's a lot of good that comes out. People want to help. A popular comment I've seen floating around lately was a quote from Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." It says a lot that many people in Boston itself are doing their best to tend to others, even complete strangers. That is the Boston I knew for almost a decade - an angry, surly monster that would snap and snarl at you until the storm rolled, when it would wrap around and shield you. Red Cross is already reporting it has more than enough blood donations for victims of the explosion. Disasters and tragedies can bring out the good in us that's always there, the good we should probably show each other more often.
Disaster and tragedy can also, unfortunately, bring out the worst in many people. Conniving, opportunistic people who look at pictures of destruction and broken bodies and see a chance to scam a fast buck. We've all heard stories of people who've started taking up donations for victims of catastrophes but ended up pocketing it, or even pretending to be victims themselves of tragedy or illness while lining their own pockets with dollars from people who just want to help. Don't be afraid to ask questions of charities and learn about who you're giving money to and research. If you'd like to find a respectable charity, for this or any reason (there are people all around the world who need help every day, after all) but want to make sure the money you're donating will be used to actually help, I highly recommend using Charity Navigator, a site that rates charities on their effectiveness. It's helped me out a bit over the years.
Next, I know a lot of you have kids. Tragedies are pretty nerve wracking to adults, but we tend to forget how overwhelming and terrifying these things can be for children. This can intensify when the news is constantly replaying footage of what happened or children hear conspiracy and conjecture from other adults and leap to conclusions. Caitlin from Order of the Good Death made a video on talking to children about death in the wake of December's Newtown school shooting (which I linked to previously). While the video itself is about talking to a child about death, lot of what's in the video can be applied to talking to children about events like the explosions. Give it a view.
That's really all. Take care of yourselves and I'll see you tomorrow.-R.