First Person

Our hearts are broken: Reflections on the Boston Marathon tragedy

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oxfam-bostonSarah Livingston is Oxfam America’s internal communications officer. Like many other Oxfam America staffers, she works out of our headquarters in downtown Boston.

Monday was a horrific day for the city of Boston, and the world. As two bombs ripped through crowds gathered near the marathon finish line, our hearts broke. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy, their families, and everyone whose healing journey is just beginning.

I was at the marathon Monday afternoon, arriving just minutes before the explosions, to meet my fiancé for lunch. The sidewalks were full of people from around the world: families on spring break, parents with little ones in tow, boosted up on their shoulders for a better view of the finish line. I saw groups from Kenya, Mexico, and Canada, decked out in their national gear, with flags waving. These expressions of national pride and celebration are a sobering reminder of what yesterday was all about: The world coming together to celebrate athleticism, strength and endurance, and the charitable causes of the runners.

We didn’t stay long on the sidewalk near the finish line. In fact, we missed the moment when expressions of joy and accomplishment turned to panic. Minutes before the bombs went off, we opted to go into a restaurant for lunch. That was when we heard the explosions. The scene that followed was chaos: people frantically running, screaming, and trying to get out of harm’s way—unsure if such a location even existed.

I’m reminded that for a moment, I felt a taste of what many of our sisters and brothers around the world experience in conflict situations. I thought of places like Syria, where the threat of violence is a daily reality, forcing more than a million people to flee their homes.

This week we were also reminded of the terrifying power of hate. Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here. We can resolve to live in the even greater power of love: Continuing the fight for justice, working to right the wrongs that exist in our world, and building pathways toward peace. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+