A reminder of humanity

April 20, 2013

Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

Boston accepted me. Awkward, distinctively Midwestern, odd pronunciations and generally naive. Economic circumstances drove a younger me to shed my Ohio shell and try a new place and Boston, willing or not, provided a land spot.

I took an immigrants love of the Northeast cutting my teeth on the real world of retail and then the newspaper business, loving what I was doing along the way.

I loved the people and came to know Boston and its sprawling towns working my beats. Despite an outside reputation of being surly, everyone was warm, embracing and jovial.

As the origin of this nation, Boston is a historian’s dream come true. It’s also a hub of education and unique culture. My rides on the T to State Street Station would provide an almost effortless display of our country’s origin. I would step off the Orange Line, emerge from the bowels of the Old State House and walk a few steps to the site of the Boston Massacre. Often, the long drive home past Fenway Park and the traffic on Storrow Drive was made worthwhile just to watch the kayakers make their evening commute back across the Charles River.

Like what happens with dreams that launch with a crescendo, reality came too soon. An abrupt awakening told me I couldn’t stay in Boston forever. Given the choice, I decided to chase my Midwest dreams waiting to be realized within the geographical reach of those I loved. Not an easy choice.

I left behind years of relationships, unique work experience, inside jokes, cultural tussles and pride. But I never really left. I never really said goodbye. I kept what I learned from Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from Everett, to Taunton and from Watertown to Springfield to Somerville, it’s all stored upstairs. The no nonsense, blue collar attitude coupled with a pride in knowledge is uniquely Northeastern, but also aspiringly emblematic of America.

In many ways, Boston rescued me. It was a tough economic time for everyone and the Northeast propped me up and taught me how to battle through adversity. This week’s events presented a different kind of adversity, but the people of Boston again provided a template of how to battle through.

The bombings and the violent and fatal clashes between the suspects and the authorities have come to a close, and I’m reminded of the resilience and compassion of Americans. Watching residents of Watertown (particularly those who suffered through the all-seasons barbecuing experimentation of myself and my friends on the streets of Franklin and Center) celebrate the apprehension of the second bombing suspect was something I will remember for a lifetime.

Monday’s bombings, as far removed as I personally am, scared the hell out of me. It threw priorities into sharp focus and reminded me of the fragility of a human life. But Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday served as reminders that human nature is powerful. The term, “Humanity” isn’t a derogatory term. People rush out of chaos, real persons rush in. Examples of what was right took place on an unfortunate stage this past week.

Unweildingly shifting gears half a continent, Boston’s angst has ended and a transition into the legal stages of the tragedy is pending, but lets not forget what is going on in West, Texas. We do not yet know the cause of the horrific event there, but we do know souls, similarly selfless to those heroes in Boston, rushed in to save others. That is the best of what’s around. That is really being human.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr.