Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Boston Marathon, My Cheese Sandwich

Reading the support, unity, and love people have shared since the tragedy in Boston has given me great hope.  I originally come from the greater Boston area and moved to Chicago 8 years ago, I had family volunteering at the Marathon, and I'm a runner.  The event struck me a lot deeper than I thought it would. 

And that bothered me, not because I had the feels, but because I've sheltered myself over the years, something I would have detested years ago.

I received my graduate degree in International Studies and have put myself through a wealth of tragic information and news. It angered me to see what goes on in the world, and at most, only the worst might make the feed at the bottom of CNN if Lindsay Lohan isn't back in court.

What best summarized it for me was a quote from Philip Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families (1999). This is a book about the genocide in Rwanda.

Hold on you are saying now, you are really going off the deep end now.  Wait a second and see where I am going.

In the book, the journalist interviewed and American Military Officer (AMO) and the following is part of that transcript:
"AMO: ‘Do you know what genocide is? A cheese sandwich. Write that down,’ he tells the journalist, ‘Genocide is a cheese sandwich.’

Journalist: ‘What does anyone care about a cheese sandwich?’

AMO: . ‘Genocide, genocide, genocide. Cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich. Who gives a shit? Crimes against humanity? Where is humanity? Who is humanity? You? Me? Did you see a crime committed against you? Hey, just a million Rwandans.’

Now to bring you back to Boston.  There are so many atrocities in the world, that there is no way we can extend a useful support to all of them as individuals, but  we should at least extend a moment of our thoughts or prayers to them. The Boston Marathon is our cheese sandwich. Its our event, our country, our history, and our people.  We can connect with it. Its a sandwich we eat and get mad when someone poisons it. It should also serve as a reminder to remember to reach back out to the world, with the same support they have shown us.

 Just scan BBC News or Al Jazeera's English's website, and thank yourself for our fortunate we have it.  The Boston Marathon is an iconic event and the attack is more than just threat against people, its a threat against our culture.  Every day, you can find incidents whose fatality and and injury count will dwarf most of our tragedies.  Indiscriminate killing, children and families falling prey to evil.  It really breaks your heart if you get to reading the articles. And maybe that's good. A reminder that we need to give back, give our support to causes that are organized to help.  Let Boston not just be about us as runners and Americans, let it also serve as a remind talk about the incidents outside our boundaries for at least a moment, give the fallen a moment of our day.  We are all humanity.

And if you really do want to be progressive, check out  and find a cause that you can get behind.

If you want to do something with your daily runs, consider an app like which runs along with your Runkeeper or what not. From its website: runners earn 25¢ a mile, up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool. Pretty easy and has charities such as: The Wounded Warrior Project, Achilles International, World Food Program, Every Mother Counts, and so on.

I am proud to see the unity and open hearts,  I hope that they stay open for people across the world, and I hope I don't turn a blind eye to the world as well just because it makes me uncomfortable.


  1. It must have been absolutely terrifying for you on Monday having family volunteering at the marathon. I can only imagine how literally close to home these tragedies must have hit you, since you grew up in Boston. It is so heartbreaking even for all of us that have minimal ties to Boston, but for it to hit your childhood home? Such an awful feeling.

    Thanks for the tip on Charity Navigator! The cheese sandwich metaphor is fantastic, too. Very well said.

  2. Oh I didn't know about that charity running app! Downloading,,,,,

  3. Totally agree. My MS is in International Public Service, and that, combined with various other college courses, overseas experience, and the like definitely puts "our" world into perspective. You've got a lot of good stuff here. Well done.

  4. thanks for the reply! World perspective is scary, just have to focus on the little things and make sure our children will continue to bring a positive influence to the world.