The Hands of Strangers

By Karen Roush, AJN clinical managing editor

Boston MarathonA marathon is a triumph of spirit and endurance. It is a solitary endeavor carried along by a hundred thousand strangers. Anyone who has run a marathon knows that the spectators are not merely spectators. They are participants—they give their energy, their encouragement, their voices; they become part of your will, your perseverance; they carry you forward. Some part of every voice, every hand touched, crosses that finish line with you.

A marathon takes place in a particular city but it belongs to the world. For months, even years, someone in Sydney, in Kampala, in Seoul, in Cedar Rapids, in Damascus, in some small unknown village and in every great city, prepared for those same 26.2 miles ending yesterday at Boylston Street in Boston.

When I think about the marathons I’ve run, it is not crossing the finish line that I remember. What I took away, and what stays with me to this day, is a powerful and joyful sense of our shared humanity. That is what the bomber tried to shatter yesterday.

I have no doubt that in time investigators will find answers to who did this and why. But the greater questions will remain. How do we live with the certainty of our vulnerability? How do we come together freely and joyfully, knowing the threat that walks in our midst? How do we stay open enough to reach our hands out to strangers?

As we grieve the terrible losses suffered in Boston and face an uncertain future, we need to be like those participants lining the route, sharing our energy and voices to carry each other forward. We need to refuse to allow anyone to shatter our shared humanity.

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2016-11-21T13:07:50+00:00 April 16th, 2013|nursing perspective|1 Comment

About the Author:

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

One Comment

  1. elizabeth April 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    devastating an absolute travesty

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