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The following is a guest post from Boston Startup Weekend Organizer Ethan Bagley. This post was originally published on his personal blog. 

This post weighs heavily on me. I’ve tried to write it a few times, and keep erasing the whole thing because it just doesn’t feel right. Recent events have shaken me hard: I ran Boston in 2004, and have had friends and family run it each and every year since. Hours filled with tension followed the explosions at the finish line as we waited to hear from our runners and friends; to know if we’d ever hear from them again. Thankfully as the night wore on, we heard from the last of them and all had escaped physically unscathed. But none of us has escaped totally untouched, and certainly the city-wide lock down will be a lasting memory. We’ll all bear a sort of scar from this tragic event, as do those who have been affected by other past events.

As the week unfolded and calls for help and support were sent out through every channel, I kept thinking back to the days and months that followed September 11th. There was a different sense about every person I encountered in that time. It’s a strong, emotional memory. A feeling that I could depend on anyone if I needed a shoulder. That my neighbor could be my confidant. That the man on the street or on the bus could be counted on to offer kind counsel. But that feeling faded with time. People got back to being their busy, difficult, stubborn selves. After a while, we forgot that it takes a village.

In common use, the phrase is “it takes a village to raise a child”, but in this context I mean to apply it a little differently. Here, it should be understood that it takes a village to heal. It takes a village of supporters and confidants; of loyal friends and family, strangers with patience, and unsung heroes, to heal us all. As we did after 9/11, the City of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA, and world have an opportunity to become that village – to embrace our humanity to a degree we’re not typically comfortable with, but must (on some level) psychologically understand to be true. We can all stand together, or we can all fall apart.

Like it or not, humanity is itself a village, and as with any social or physical structure, the more well-connected and thoughtful the foundation, the more likely it will recover from tragedy. We’re all still understanding how to feel about recent events, but I hope that above all we remember our sympathy, our friends and neighbors, our communities, and our humanity. It takes a village to heal.

If you’re wondering how you can help those affected by Monday’s events in Boston, here are a few suggestions:

TUGG is raising money on Fundraise.com to provide assistance to the victims and their families.

Schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets in the coming weeks.

Donate funds to organizations that will be supporting those who will need prosthetics as a result of the attack.

My Dragon Boat team, The Boat For Kids Who Don’t Paddle Good, are raising funds for children affected by the Boston Marathon attack. Please give here if you can.

Most importantly, ask your friends and neighbors how they’re doing. Have an honest conversation. Show love, be loved, and do not be afraid.


Photo from Jared Wickerham/Getty Images