This is the second time I’ll be celebrating Patriot’s Day in Los Angeles. The first time, four years ago, I was on vacation. It was 2013, I was a teacher’s assistant in kindergarten, and didn’t think much of the marathon happening back home in Boston. I was relishing in my California Dreamin’ moment.
That all changed that afternoon. I had just received a text message from my sister saying she was two miles from the finish line. Her picture featured a beautiful, sunny spring day. Boston, truly, at its finest.
A half hour later, I clicked on Facebook. Mayhem, terror, madness. No one knew what was going on. Phone lines were down. My parents hadn’t even heard yet. It took twenty minutes to finally get in touch with my sister to hear that her and my brother-in-law were safe. We were lucky. Many were not.
Four years passed by in a blur. I remember the fear and pain that day instilled. Those were the streets I walked on every day for four years in college. That was my city, my playground, my safe haven.
What transpired was trauma of the worst kind. Beloved lives were lost and torn apart. That year, along with the Newtown Sandy Hook School shooting, was the beginning of an onslaught of terror attacks throughout this country. Don’t you remember the terror? Don’t you remember the grief?
We’ve grown complacent in our new age. These attacks still happen, more frequently, on our soil and on others, and we blink, we breathe, and we proceed onto the next article. I’m guilty of it too. That pang, that was once so bright and terrifying, is a mere twinge to the heart.
But today, I find myself reflective. Our world is a dark one. There is love true and strong, but there’s hate, violence, and intolerance overshadowing.
Attacks also happen on a smaller-scale every day.
On Saturday, I was at a theme park with a friend and witnessed a group of teenage boys pushing each other around and calling each other ‘faggot’ as an insult. Everyone around them stayed silent, either made faces or ignored them completely. I used to be one of those people, just turned the other cheek. But not in this world. I called them out on it, told them to keep their hands to themselves and mind their words. People, no matter their age, need to be held accountable for their words and actions. They need to realize how they affect others. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. It’s certainly not bliss. Yes, we have a president who endorses sexual harassment, bigotry, violence, and hate, but he only represents this country as long as we allow it.
Now is the time to determine what type of person we want to be in this world. We are on the verge of the world falling apart. I’m sorry to say that I’m not dramatizing this. I do my best to find the goodness in life, but I’m ready to fight too. We are witnesses to what evil, hate, indifference, bigotry, racism, sexism, and violence can inspire.
I will not be complacent. I will resist. I will keep an open-mind, open-heart, and eyes wide-open. I will be the change I want to see in this world. I will not be silent. I will remember the pain and fear and grief in loss. Those losses, and the many more that occurred before and after, will not be in vain.
I have a voice. And I will use it.