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Running on Empty


There is a macabre irony to the Boston Marathon bombing; that of blowing off the legs of people at a running event. The victims lost their legs to this low flying violence as they stood behind barricades waiting for their loved ones who were using their legs to cross the finish line.

Large public events like the Boston marathon with its large participation and crowds attending obscures the fact that long distance running is a very solitary and I would say self-indulgent activity. I view climbing twenty-nine thousand foot peaks in the same light. Feels like a lot of me me me. Even when you run with someone else you seldom speak. At some point it becomes only you and the ten feet in front of you.

It is another macabre irony that they run for pleasure and personal achievement while much of the world runs on pain and self sacrifice. They run for pleasure while the ills of capitalism run roughshod over most of the globe and a military that has put millions of people on the run between Iraq and Afghanistan. If you think this is anything new; it was a matter of policy to keep native people on the run back in the day; culminating with the big rundown and slaughter at Wounded Knee.

Wherever the drones are flying the people below are surely on the run hoping beyond hope they can get to safety. Maybe that’s why so many children are killed by drones; they just can’t run fast enough.

The media ran wild with speculation in a series of hundred yard dashes that did little but leave them breathless. It seemed they were running a witch hunt. Was this the Hunger Games sequel I’ve been hearing about? I wonder how much the media hype, massive police presence, and the very public passing around of their photos threw a panic into the alleged perpetrators and got them on the run where they killed one and wounded another before they themselves could run no more.

CNN reported that the elder alleged bomber expressed his desire for money and women so it appears he really wasn’t much different from the average american male. Speaking of which, the average american male was in the streets applauding after the carnage was over like it was the end of a really satisfying action movie. It was something they’d already seen a hundred times before. One suspects that they cheered louder and longer for the violent captures than cried for the bombing victims.

The Marathon will be back there is little doubt. It will be declared a triumph of American resolve by the run amok media. They’ll show emotional shots of good Americans pushing survivors on wheels through the course and over the finish line. They’ll hang medals around their necks and wheel them next to politicians and Boston bred celebrities for photo-ops. There may be a few who run the course on their new artificial limbs, if so, the media will chime in on how they are making such amazing leaps forward in the design and usability of them without a hint of irony; there are only fake impressions of false notions running through their heads.

The whole stinking mess is tragic and unnecessary. All it takes is to sit still and soberly assess. They may have concluded long ago that you cannot make continual war and expect it won’t take the legs out from under you someday.

Peace on earth before the clock runs out.

Michael McDaeth is a writer and musician living in Seattle. He is the author of the novel Roads and Parking Lots. He can be reached

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