MANNO: Boston tragedy should be a reminder to increase awareness

To me, one part of Monday’s bombings in Boston that pulled particularly hard on my heartstrings was the idea of this happening at a marathon. There’s a feeling that comes from marathons much like the Olympics or the World Cup. They’re a global event, not just in the sense of the runners themselves – more than 25,000 people from all over the world – but because they have that feeling that seems too other-worldly, as everyone just drops their problems for the day to run together. I think this is the part of athletics I’ve always been most fond of.

Here in France, I caught wind of the events first from a New York Times post and comments from friends at home on Facebook. Afterward, a friend from Johannesburg expressed sympathy. Then another friend from France, followed by one from Chile, posted. I have never had the opportunity to experience the response to a tragedy in the United States quite like this: It was global news, and it garnered a global response.

With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if we always offer the same in return. We certainly should.

There’s a sense of helplessness that ensues following a tragedy like this, like every other tragedy, big or small, global or personal. Knowing that someone out there shares your struggle is essential if we’re going to keep living on this rock. But even beyond the humongous web of support that the response to Boston has created is a lesson in global awareness. Only when you’re aware of something do you have the power to do something about it – and hey, isn’t that why we’re here?

This isn’t to say we’re ignorant, nor apathetic, nor insensitive. But it doesn’t hurt to be humbled by something, and, in this case, to use others’ awareness as a model for our own behavior. When you get to the bare bones, people are people, and events are taking place all over the world that need attention.

We should all be aware of what goes on in the world, even if it takes a little digging. On the seventh day, I’m told, God made Google. Don’t let the news reports about squirrels on water skis fool you – there are plenty of ways to learn about the world, from the Boston Marathon to the elections in Venezuela, from what’s going on in Milwaukee to an earthquake in Iran. You owe it to the people who have clearly expressed their care for you to care in return.

Tony Manno is a junior double majoring in journalism and writing-intensive English. Email him at