The Week In Ethics Blog

Marathon Runners and Lessons of Resilience

Marathon Runners and Lessons of Resilience

Posted On: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 2014 Boston Marathon grew into a symbol. It wasn’t just a race; it was about facing down hate and destruction with community and courage.

It showed how runners, spectators, individuals and families affected by the 2013 bombing at the Marathon finish line handled tragedy and came to embody and teach resilience.

It is also became a story of how a city known for past divisiveness became One Boston.

Tragedies breed choices. A fitting legacy of the April 2013 bombing would be that a city acting as one community feeling a shared sense of loss and purpose in running to help those injured, then in honoring those killed, and then in supporting those grieving and healing would demand of itself that it sustain the spirit of humanity that has characterized much of the last year (with a lapse or two), insisting on nothing less from itself going forward.

In the weeks after the 2013 bombing, a memorial sprung up a block away in Copley Square for tributes: to eight-year old Martin Richard (see left), 29-year old Krystle Campbell (known for her beauty and kind heart) and Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu killed by the bombs; MIT police officer Sean Collier murdered the next day by the bombing suspects; and the 264 people seriously injured in the bombings.

In the April 21, 2014 Boston Marathon, many of the 36,000 runners had the names of those who died or were injured on their bibs or in their hearts.

There have been tragedies in all-too many cities and towns: including  places like Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, CT), a movie theater (Aurora, CO), Sikh Temple (Oak Creek, WI), Columbine High School (Littleton, CO),  Oklahoma City, New York City, Boston and any street where drunk drivers, drive-by shootings or other acts of violence claim lives.

In the aftermath, there are families, neighbors, friends, strangers, businesses, runners and others who step in, give voice to values and heart to actions. They offer help and encouragement when acts of man or nature create such pain those impacted are stopped in their tracks.
And when the time is right, there is the metaphor of the marathon, a spirit of humanity that lifts others up, taking them with it, so that in the movement forward the signs of hope that fuel resilience are more evident.

Through it all there is leadership…..servant leaders who act with humility and empathy, holding a belief in what is possible as they quietly lead the way.

And if a city is lucky, there are enough of these leaders so that the spirit of community, the sense of One Boston, One Anyplace, can be sustainable.

Gael O'Brien

Gael O’Brien is a catalyst for leaders leading with purpose and impact through clarity, presence and connection so that they create engagement that transforms their companies’ future. She is an executive coach, culture coach, speech coach and presenter. She publishes The Week in Ethics and is a Business Ethics Magazine columnist, a Kallman Executive Fellow, Hoffman Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University and a Senior Fellow Social Innovation, the Lewis Institute at Babson College.

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Great article. Did you know that the man who won is or was a resident of San Diego who graduated from San Diego High as well as from UCLA?

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