Dave Winer addresses a perception I hadn’t realized was common: Boston stayed inside a week ago Friday because we were afraid to go outside. Nope.
I’ll speak for myself, but I actually have good reason to think that I’m talking for many others. I stayed inside because the mayor and governor told me that they needed the streets clear in order to catch the child-murdering bastards who attacked my city. The bombers were being cornered, and on that Friday there was nothing I desired more than they face justice. I never felt in danger, and I am not a brave person.
My evidence that I’m speaking for more than just myself: In the many conversations with people afterwards, not one of them mentioned being afraid, or it being a scary day, although many (including me) talked about it being a very weird day. Our only fear was that they might get away. (It was undoubtedly very different for people in Watertown. Here in Brookline/Brighton I didn’t see any police or hear sirens or gunshots.)
Dave nicely ties it back to a talk he had given the day before to the Boston Globe:
People feel a need to be part of the world they live in. Most of us feel like we’re on the sidelines, spectators, consumers, eyeballs, credit card numbers, and that’s not what we want. We want meaning. We want to make a contribution. We want do do good and have that good make a difference. If you look at what people actually do, not the stories you read in the paper or hear on CNN, this is obvious. The bombings not only worried people, for a short time when the scope of the danger was unknown, but people also saw the opportunity to get some of the precious stuff, meaning and relevance.
Yup. Our participation that day was minimal — stay at home! — but it was what we could do, and it would only work if we all did it together. It was a moment of civic focus and solidarity that palpably transformed the city for one day. Fear had nothing to do with it.