Thanks for Being My Community

I’ve been pretty busy lately, but had scheduled tonight to sit and write a post. I had a couple of possible ideas in my head, mostly to do with some interesting and weird stats stuff, but now that I’m sitting down at the computer all I can think about is Boston.

I feel like my mind is filled with a million things at once: horror at the description of the bombing aftermath, sadness for the friends and families of the victims, relief that my own friends and acquaintances who were at the Boston Marathon made it through ok, guilt at my relief that my friends are ok while other people’s friends were killed or badly injured, fear that any one of my friends or family could be taken away from me in a mere moment with no warning. My relatively stable life suddenly feels like it’s teetering on the edge of a precipice. The world suddenly feels scary and unsafe.

In times like these, many people find support in their religious beliefs. They feel solace in their knowledge that the victims live on in the afterlife and comfort in stories of miracles and close calls averted. In addition to their friends and family, they can also connect with a support system consisting of the wider community for their particular belief system.

I don’t have religion to lean on in times like this, so instead I’m coping by reminding myself that 99.99999% of all humans on this earth are good people and finding examples to prove it, like this tweet from @RedCrossEastMA on Monday night asking people near Boston to stop coming by to give blood because so many people came by already that they didn’t need anymore.


Or the story of Carlos Arrendondo, a spectator at the marathon who immediately after the bombing ran toward the bombed area to help victims.

Or the over 5000 Bostonians who signed a GoogleDoc offering to host out-of-town folk who had nowhere to go after their hotels closed or were evacuated.

Or the woman who walked up and handed her own coat to a runner who, unable to get to her bag of clothes near the finish line, was shivering on the streets in her shorts and singlet.

Or Peter Sagal, who ran the Boston Marathon as a guide for a blind runner, crossing the finish line only minutes before the bomb went off.

Or Lelisa Desisa Benti and Rita Jeptoo who proved humans can accomplish amazing things by winning the Boston marathon.

Not to mention all of the volunteers and first responders and hospital workers who rushed to the scene to help victims or searched the city for potential other threats or stayed up all night tending to victims at the hospital.

The fact is that almost every single human in the world is a good person that will step up to help others when the situation calls for it. That is the thing that brings me solace.

In terms of shared community, I have that too. In fact, it exists right here at Skepchick and the wider Skepchick network and community. My first source of news about the bombing was the Skepchick backchannel. Since then I’ve found comfort in sharing my grief not only with my close friends in Chicago and the other Skepchicks, but also my wider community of friends on twitter and facebook, most of whom I know through a network of people I met via Skepchick.

I’ve been blogging here on Skepchick only a couple weeks, but have been part of the community for so much longer. It was only a couple years ago that I first moved to Chicago and met Skepchick Elyse. Through her, I’ve met so many interesting and wonderful people. I’ve gone to SkepchiCON and made lifelong friends there. Many of you I’ve known only through the Internet. Some of you I’ve never talked to directly but I’ve seen your comments and tweets and consider you my friends. Some of you I don’t know but you know me. I consider you my friends too. I cannot tell you how important all of you are to me. It is these bonds and friendships that make me feel like I can get through any horrible situation. Together we share triumphs and outrages and happiness and grief. I don’t need a religious community because I have a community of my own right here. Thanks for being a part of it.

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash, Getty Images

Jamie Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein is a data, stats, policy and economics nerd who sometimes pretends she is a photographer. She is @uajamie on Twitter and Instagram. If you like my work here at Skepchick & Mad Art Lab, consider sending me a little sumthin' in my TipJar: @uajamie

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  1. I also read a couple of stories of doctors at the scene (one a runner the other a spectator) who lent their services immediately following the blast. Beside that, such a fantastic summation of my own feelings on the topic.

    1. There have been so many hero stories coming out in the past two days. I’ve been googling “boston heroes” and reading as many as I can.

  2. Although it pales in scale, the event reminded me of watching the first responders and civilians helping others in the aftermath of the attack on my home town one September day nearly twelve years ago. Jamie mentions how many have religion for their solace in times like this. For me, whatever slim shred of belief in god I had left disappeared on that day.

  3. You have eloquently put into words what I am feeling but could not figure out how to express. You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to your input on Skepchick.

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