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Julie-Anne Whitney Headshot

'Things Like This Don't Happen Here'

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At 3:15 Monday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk in downtown Boston. I of course knew the marathon was happening (certain streets had been closed throughout the weekend to accommodate the forthcoming race), but it is not an event that I personally follow. So I sat there, entrenched in my work as if it were just another manic Monday.

My coworker came in from the hallway after speaking with her mother on the phone. Without hesitation, she said "A bomb just went off at the marathon."

"A bomb?" I asked.

"A bomb," she confirmed.

The finish line was a mere 15-minute walk from my office door. I couldn't believe it. A bomb in Boston? Surely, there had to be a mistake.

We both immediately turned to our computers, checking our Facebook news feed, messaging friends, making sure everyone we knew was safe, that we would be. Sure enough, there most certainly was a bomb. Two, in fact. But we were lucky. None of our friends or even friends-of-friends were among the injured.

We spent the next 90 minutes hungrily searching for any and all news of the bombing. How many bombs and how many dead? How many streets and bridges were closed? How would we get home? Though the T was still running to certain stations, we all decided it would be best to try walking home. We broke up into small groups and headed out.

Due to the closing of the Longfellow and Harvard Bridges, my group of four decided to take our chances and walk from our office (three blocks from South Station) across the Charles River Dam, past the Museum of Science to the Galleria. The only significant difficulty we had was perhaps an emotional one: as we turned the corner toward Mass General, we came face-to-face with four policemen armed with semi-automatic weapons -- a sobering and halting sight. After the 45-minute walk, a 40-minute wait for a bus at Lechmere Station, a 15-minute bus ride and a 10-minute car ride, I finally arrived home around 7:30 p.m..

Unlike on 9/11 when, like so many others, I could not tear myself away from the television, I could not seem to bear watching the news this time. It was so strange to hear "Boylston Street" and "Copley Square" being repeated over and over again on CNN, and even more strange to see Anderson Cooper standing on a street that I've walked down dozens of times. It was surreal. Having not physically seen anything that was being broadcasted on the news and circulating around the Internet, the idea that this actually happened here was a very difficult one to grasp. This is where I live. This is where I work. This is where my friends are. This is my home. Things like this don't happen here. Right?

Wrong. Things like this happen everywhere. All over the world. It is nothing new. But it's not just bombs that kill. It's guns. It's war. It's greed. It's hatred. Hatred is what killed those three people on Monday. Hatred is what killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. It was hatred that killed nearly one million Rwandans in the early '90s. It was hatred that killed nearly six million Jewish people during WWII. Since the beginning of time, people have been killing other people for what they believe or don't believe, for where and how they live, for what they think, for what they look like and for who they love. Will we never learn? Will the hatred never cease?

We can only hope.

This post originally appeared on My Hunger Is For Life.

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