It All Started with a Big Blob of Chocolate

My first race was two years ago: the Hot Chocolate 5K at the National Harbor. Hundreds of people had parking problems, the race started late as a result, and I'm told the 15K course was a disaster. But once we got started and my feet thawed, it all went beautifully for me and the friends I was with: Me, Erin and Leslie

As you can see, the Hot Chocolate 5K ended with hot cocoa and this... still the finest post-race party I've ever experienced:

It all started with a big blob of chocolate

There have been other races, including two 10Ks and two half marathons.

DC Rock and Roll Half, March 2013

Annapolis Half with Linda!

By the way.

To all you tiresome bores who drone on about how "everyone gets a trophy" is the downfall of society as we know it, and how we should give prizes to the fastest and the best and let all the mediocre people be content with the experience of playing: JUST TRY AND TAKE MY FINISHERS' MEDALS, you alpha-wannabe jerks.

Cough. As I was saying. Races:

It all started with a big blob of chocolate

I got to run a 10K with a handsome friend!

It all started with a big blob of chocolate

Along the way, there have been equipment fails:

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During your times of trial and suffering, when you see one red line, it is then that I carried you. -RunKeeper Jesus

There have been trail fails:

photo 4

And there have been user errors, like when I forgot to turn off RunKeeper while walking the labyrinth at Mo-Ranch:

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~

And for the last four months, there have been about 400 miles, as I get ready for this:

disney-marathon

Here I am post-15 miles. There was woohooing.

There was woo-hooing.

Post-17 miles, when I fumble-fingered the picture. Epic:

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Post-18 miles, when I was a cold, wet, triumphant mess, and I got the dang picture right:

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Post-20 miles. It was 48 degrees and rainy the entire time.

How beautiful are the feet of those who just get the dang run done already. -Isaiah, sort of.

~

I started the Couch to 5K program three years ago. Before that, I had not run since sixth grade softball, and even then, I ran in short reluctant bursts. I took on C25K not because I wanted to run, or even because I wanted to lose weight or improve general fitness, but because I wanted to hike Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with family and I didn't know how else to train for it in flat suburban Northern Virginia. I made it up the mountain, barely. I made it up despite both of my boots failing and being woefully out of shape. (Running 5K and hiking for several hours aren't the same, go figure.)

I made it up the mountain...

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...because the other options were to inconvenience a lot of people by requiring them to rescue me, and lying down to die. I'm enough of a good girl that the former was as unsavory an option as the latter.

I haven't done a hike like that since then. But I still run.

I remember attending Rice University's commencement at the end of my sophomore year, when lots of friends were graduating. I was captivated by the PhD hooding ceremony---all those relieved, resolute scholars, turning to face the audience as a professor draped the doctoral hood over their shoulders.

I knew that would be me someday. I remember thinking about the great human achievements, listing them in my head: Getting a PhD is one. Writing a book. Inventing something. Oh, and running a marathon, I suppose.

Now, getting a PhD is a multi-year process, which makes it much more a test of stamina than a marathon. Still, if you'd told me five years ago that someone would be hanging a marathon medal around my neck rather than an academic hood, I would have been shocked.

But with a little luck, a lot of tunes, proper hydration and no injuries, that will happen on Sunday.

You can do things you think you can't do.

~

By the way, you can still give to the American Heart Association in celebration of my Disney Marathon run.

Answer Me These Questions Three: A Sermon Post-Boston

UntitledI'm off-sync from most of you in terms of lectionary... but here's what I preached Sunday morning: MaryAnn McKibben Dana Idylwood Presbyterian Church April 21, 2013 John 21:1-19 Fourth Sunday of Easter

Answer Me These Questions Three

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin,* Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.3Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 6He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards* off.

9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

~

The headline appeared over an article in The Guardian newspaper (online) this week:

News is bad for you – giving up reading it will make you happier

The subtitle elaborates: News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.

The article goes on and lists a few of the reasons:

  • News can mislead. It highlights events in a sensational way to the point that we are convinced that things are much worse than they are
  • News activates the fearful, reactive side of us.
  • Panicky stories release cortisol, which impacts our immune system and makes us function poorly.
  • News stories make us feel passive, because so many of them are about things that are beyond our control.

There were many other reason listed, with a blunt conclusion: don’t consume news:

Society needs journalism, but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news.

Don’t consume news, the article concludes; consume long-form articles and books instead.[1]

I don’t see our 24/7 culture taking hold of that message and putting CNN and Fox News out of business anytime soon. But if any week could possibly convince us, it was this one. It was a terrible, heavy, tragic week. It got to the point, round about the time of the Senate’s vote on universal background checks for gun purchases, that I was clicking on Facebook and news sites with one hand over my eyes. And by the time a fertilizer plant exploded in the sweet little town of West, Texas, and by the time the Des Plaines River had overflowed its banks in Chicago after torrential rains, I had my hands over my proverbial ears singing Lalalala I can’t hear you.

Add to that the chronic sadness that hums around us all the time—in the form of illnesses, family strife, poverty, the everyday tugs and squabbles and griefs, and it feels like too much. Just way, way too much.

It may not be much consolation, but Jesus’ friends were also dealing with too much—way, way, too much—though admittedly, a different kind of too-much. Jesus, their friend and teacher, the one they had pledged to follow has died and apparently, been raised. I say “apparently” because yes, he’s appeared to them, two strange and fleeting visits in the house where they’re staying, but nothing lasting, no lengthy teachings or long road trips, nothing permanent they can hold onto. He just pops up when they least expect it, like some holy Jack in the Box. From that first resurrection moment in the garden when Mary Magdalene grabs hold of Jesus and he says “Don’t hang on to me,” Jesus seems intent on giving them just a little glimpse and then—gone.

It’s all very disorienting. Is he out there or not? Is he raised or not? Is it true or just their imaginations? Who can say? It’s all very heavy, man.

So what do they do? They go fishing.

There’s a saying in family systems thinking: “When we don’t know what to do, we do what we know.” The emotions of the week prior have stunned them, and Peter most of all. He’s always been the one who’s wanted to get it right.

Don’t wash my feet, Jesus. Oh, you’re supposed to? Then wash my whole body. Deny you three times? Not only will I never deny you, I will die alongside you!

Peter is that guy that makes grand promises and really means it, but just can’t deliver. So the events of the last couple of weeks aren’t just disorienting. They have held up a mirror to Peter’s every weakness, every good intention gone awry, every last failure.

So he goes fishing. He doesn’t know what to do, so he does what he knows.

And so do we, yes? Perhaps that’s why couples have the same arguments over and over. Or why some companies cling to outdated business models when faced with an uncertain new future. Or why churches look at a changing landscape of decline and instead of saying, “Let’s be open to something radically new,” we say, “Let’s keep doing what we’re doing, just more so.”

“Doing what we know” also explains much of the rhetoric of the past week. There’s never been a week exactly like April 14-20, 2013, and yet the public discourse seems sadly familiar. When we don’t know what to do, we do what we know. We retreat to our camps and our talking points:

This is about Muslims coming to get us. This is about needing to keep immigrants out. Where did those two young men get all those guns and explosives? We need gun control!

It’s about the same old things it’s always about. And everyone’s susceptible to it.

And I wonder whether Jesus is… wherever Jesus is, taking all this in and saying, Stop making it about your own pet issues. You are missing the point.

There’s been a lot of speculation by preachers and commentators about this “Do you love me” business. Why “Do you love me?” What kind of person asks, “Do you love me?” An insecure person, sometimes. For some, “Do you love me” is right up there with “Does this outfit make me look fat?” But I don’t know. I don’t see the Lord of all creation as needing validation.

And why three times? Well, three is the number of completeness in scripture. It’s also a common narrative device. Three little pigs, three little bears, three questions from Jesus. But notice, each exchange is not exactly the same. Jesus changes it up a little, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep… eh, that doesn’t feel like much, but Peter. Peter goes somewhere. The first couple of times he just… answers. “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Like a teenager: Yes Mom, curfew’s at 11. No Dad, I won’t do anything stupid.

But the third time… the third time Peter is hurt. The question finally pierces the armor and hits a tender place, and Peter is laid bare.

He feels hurt, that Jesus would keep questioning him. He feels hurt… He feels.

Last week one of you came out of the sanctuary and told me about an encounter you’d had with a homeless person. That’s such a hard one. Do you give money, do you not? If you don’t give money shouldn’t you at least look at the person rather than ignore? This is a human being, after all. And you know what? It’s supposed to be hard. That never gets easy, because love is not easy. It’s not an easy, perfunctory love that Jesus calls us to.

I’d like it to be easy.

…I am so tired of people killing each other. I’m sure you’re tired of it too. Maybe you want to just tune out and stop listening. These events seem to come at us so relentlessly that it’s easier to change the channel, keep it all at arms’ length, and retreat into our talking points. But we can’t.

Because when a bomb goes off in Boston or in Baghdad, Jesus asks us, “Do you love me?” And every time a teenager is shot on the south side of Chicago, it’s Jesus again. “Do you love me?” Whether it’s a family losing their homes in Washington, or an earthquake in China, or a town in Texas that lost some of its bravest fire fighters and emergency workers, the ones that ventured into the fire, there's that question again. “Do you love me?”

And that doesn’t mean we are called to respond to every piece of bad news that we encounter. Not everything is ours to do. But we do have to confront that relentless question every time. Because that’s Jesus there, devasted in Boston and Baghdad, that’s Jesus, sorting through the rubble in China and in West Texas.

Jesus asked Peter because he needed to see evidence of it. Do you love me? Prove it. Follow me.

Fred Craddock was the keynote speaker at a conference at Clemson University. Before his lecture a young woman was going to begin the program with a devotional. She was a plain, earnest young woman and as she approached the microphone he could see that she had a yellow legal pad that had a lot of writing on it. “Uh oh,” Craddock thought, “we’re here for the night.”

She spoke softly and in what he thought was a foreign language. Just a short burst of words. And then another language. What was she saying?

And then another one, and on and on it went. It was relentless... like a question they couldn’t answer. Thirty times. Forty times. Fifty, sixty, seventy.

When she got to German and Spanish and French, Fred Craddock finally began to recognize it. The last time, it was English.

“Mommy, I’m hungry.” And then she sat down.

Tend my lambs. Feed my sheep.

They won’t know we are Christians by our flag, they won’t know we are Christians by our friends, they won’t know we are Christians by our incredible potlucks, or our doctrine, or our political party. They’ll only know we are Christians by our love.

Nothing more. Nothing less. [2]



[1] Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli

[2] Elements of this sermon, including the concluding story, are taken from Becca Gillespie Messman’s paper for The Well preaching group, and subsequent discussion.

Friday Link Love: Stephen Colbert, the Art of Procrastination, and More on the Bombing in Boston

First, the links of self-promotion. My publisher, Chalice Press, is giving away free e-books this month in honor of Earth Day. Go there and get free stuff. Next, the link of friend-promotion. I forgot a book on last week's list of books published by friends. It's The Benefit of the Doubt: Claiming Faith in an Uncertain World by Frank Spencer.

Anon!

~

My Father's Arms Are a Boat -- Brain Pickings

A picture book from Norway. My children are outgrowing picture books but I'm sure not:

myfathersarms7

This tender and heartening Norwegian gem tells the story of an anxious young boy who climbs into his father’s arms seeking comfort on a cold sleepless night. The two step outside into the winter wonderland as the boy asks questions about the red birds in the spruce tree to be cut down the next morning, about the fox out hunting, about why his mother will never wake up again. With his warm and assuring answers, the father watches his son make sense of this strange world of ours where love and loss go hand in hand.

~

Stephen Colbert Wears His Religion in His Punch Lines -- LA Times

This whole article is MaryAnn bait:

There was a time when [Martin] Sheen's brand of liberation theology drove social and political conversation. Now Colbert is its most visible proponent — if he wasn't married and didn't make so many jokes about "lady parts," he could be this generation's hot radical priest.

The brilliance of "The Colbert Report" is its refusal to dismiss or denigrate the religion with jokes that equate faith with idiocy or churchgoing with bovine surrender. Instead Colbert attempts to extricate what he sees as the essential message of Christianity from the piles of intellectual rot and political carpet bags that have been piled on and around it in the last 10 years.

~

Magnetic Putty is Completely Amazing/Terrifying -- Colossal

Is it ever: "Magnetic putty is just like any other putty in that you can handle it, sculpt it, and squeeze it in a fist as you visualize your enemies. But place it anywhere near a strong magnetic field and it will SPONTANEOUSLY ANIMATE and move to consume anything magnetic in its path like a voracious mutated slug."

https://vimeo.com/63773788#

~

The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity -- Marc Andreessen

The guy invented the first widely used web browser, so he's got some game.

This is a great list. Even the stuff I can't emulate for practical reasons (I'm a pastor, and pastors have meetings) still intrigues me to think about. Here's structured procrastination:

The gist of Structured Procrastination is that you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate -- instead, you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done.

Generally in the course of a day, there is something you have to do that you are not doing because you are procrastinating.

While you're procrastinating, just do lots of other stuff instead.

As John says, "The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done."

~

Two links inspired by Boston:

How Terror Hijacks the Brain -- Time

Know thyself:

Traumatic events typically evoke a whole suite of brain responses, such as making people faster to startle, increasing their reaction time and producing hyper vigilance to any type of sensation that might be linked with the threatening experience.

And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve. “Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic,” says Hollander, noting that media coverage that repeats the sounds and images of the events maximizes their impact. The coverage keeps the threat alive and real in people’s minds, and sustains the threat response, despite the fact that the immediate danger has passed.

~

#PrayForBoston: Prayer as Meme -- Elizabeth Drescher, Religion Dispatches

Prayer memes shared in times of crisis do something besides expressing traditional religiosity, calling us to God, to regular spiritual practice, or to worship. Rather, in an increasingly secularized America (the Land of the Rising None), praying or calling for prayer in times of tragedy seems to mark a kind of existential angst, sorrow, or confusion for which other words or gestures seem inadequate. Likewise, the impulse to pray holds a space that we may not even believe exists, giving us time to gather our less spiritually distracted wits about us. It is “true” in what it offers more than in what it is.

~

The Economic Logic of the 'New Domesticity' -- Ann Friedman, New Republic

A new book, Homeward Bound: Embracing the New Domesticity, offers another angle to the lean in/opt out discussion:

Each of the lightning-rod articles that [discussed the opt-out 'revolution] (Linda Hirshman’s in 2005 and 2008, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s in 2012) was primarily about what women are saying no to: women who don’t want to do what it takes; women who can’t have it all; women who are letting their careers slide; women who are walking away. These are all articles about the demands of the workplace, not the joys of the home, chronicling why women are pushed out, not pulled in. This implied lack of agency is probably why women on all sides of this debate tend to get so defensive—think Sex and the City’s Charlotte screaming, “I choose my choice! I choose my choice!” ...

Still, these women are not exactly CEOs or congresswomen, and the number of women at the top of the professional world is still dismal. Feminism, many argue, has not gone far enough. But to hear many of the new domestics tell the tale, feminism has gone too far. In nearly every arena, second-wave feminists come in for some of the blame. They stand accused of pushing women into the workforce but failed to break the glass ceiling or ensure paid family leave. They’re charged with devaluing domestic skills like cooking to the point where we all got fat on fast food. But feminists “did not invent the two-career family,” Matchar points out. “The economy did that.”

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, I care about breaking the stained-glass ceiling. And as a part-time writer, I like being here when the girls get home from school and being able to chaperone their field trips. So I toggle between all kind of contradictions and negotiations. Sounds like an intriguing book.

~

Have a great weekend, everyone! We are going to see American Utopias at Woolly Mammoth Theater, in between shuttling kids to birthday parties. And you?

Boston Link Love

proxy I don't know what to say at times like this.

So many people have been quick with eloquent and pertinent words. Advice for talking to kids about traumatic events. Sharp and sensitive theological reflection. Aside from yesterday's post, which is little more than an anecdote and a quote, I've got nothing other than a nodding head and deep sighs. Anything I think about writing feels like that Onion article after 9/11: Not Knowing What Else to Do, Woman Bakes American Flag Cake.

Inadequate.

How do people manage to be so eloquent so fast? It takes me time to process. I guess I am an introvert after all.

But I do read, and appreciate the writings of others. And since I am all about the link love, here is a compendium of the best bits that have come to me. Many of them appeared on Facebook, so you may have seen them. They are worth seeing again. They are hopeful and thoughtful.

~

To Kiss the Ground -- David Ensign, Faithful Agitation

David is a friend, fellow pastor and a runner. He reflects on Boston in light of his own experience of running a half marathon just the day before:

I cannot reconcile the pictures of mayhem from Boston with the joyous celebration that marks the finish of distance races. Those parties are not the only thing that runners run for, but they are the culmination of hours of mostly solitary running and they bring a simple, tired, joyous sense of completion to all that work. I think most of us who run are probably feeling a similar sense of dislocation as we contemplate the horror, suffering and loss from Boston and place those empty feelings alongside what the finish line should feel like.

I've seen lots of pictures over the years of marathon finishers kneeling down to kiss the ground just beyond the finish line. That's what the finish should feel like: kissing the ground in exhausted gratitude.

~

God's Love Wins: Reflections on Boston Marathon Bombing -- Emily C. Heath

Emily is a friend and fellow pastor. Her theological affirmations are my own.

Five months ago we stood just yards from the finish line as our wedding photos were taken, right after we had said our vows. People walking by on the street congratulated us and wished us well. We could almost feel the love surrounding us that day. That's what I remember most about that block of Boylston Street.

And that's what I'm going to keep remembering. What happened today is a tragedy and I will mourn it with Boston and with everyone who has turned their hearts to the city tonight. But whomever it was who tried to blow the block apart, and who tried to forever turn it into a place synonymous with terror and pain...you don't get to.

~

Stories of Kindness after the Bombing -- Atlantic Wire

13 Examples of People Being Awesome after the Attack on the Boston Marathon -- Business Insider

There is some overlap here but both pieces are good. They bear witness to what I posted yesterday from Patton Oswalt, which many have shared as well. The image above is from the second link: "Former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi was spotted helping an injured woman after the blast."

~

The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On -- Atlantic

Excellent use of a phrase that has been riffed and mangled and memed to death. Whatever happened to "nothing to fear but fear itself"? The article provides a sane voice and points to just how rare events like yesterday are. We need to remember that and respond accordingly. And when we do, we neutralize the power of terrorism:

There are things we can do to make us safer, mostly around investigation, intelligence, and emergency response, but we will never be 100-percent safe from terrorism; we need to accept that.

How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn't primarily a crime against people or property. It's a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.

~

And two about running, my adopted sport:

Boston Bombings, A Loss of Innocence -- Runner's World

Marathon running has a long tradition of celebrating, commemorating, and affirming life. The original Olympic marathon in 1896 was to commemorate the man who carried the news of a victory for freedom. The first Boston Marathon a year later followed that idea by honoring the ride of Paul Revere, not on his actual route, but always on his day, Patriots Day in the State of Massachusetts (that's why it's on Monday). The Kosice Marathon in Slovakia and the Comrades Marathon in South Africa were created to commemorate the dead in World War 1. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon affirms life after the bombings in that city in 1995. This very Boston Marathon mourned and honored the school kids who were gunned down a few months ago in Newtown, Connecticut, not far from here. Out of respect for them, the race was started for the first time in 117 years not with a gun but with an air horn.

Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It's the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It's the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It's the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It's the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.

I don't think road races are as exclusive as this, but what he says is true.

~

If You Are Losing Faith in Human Nature, Go Out and Watch a Marathon -- Ezra Klein

The finish line at a marathon is a small marvel of fellowship. Everyone is there to celebrate how much stronger the runners are than they ever thought they could be. Total strangers line up alongside the route to yell encouragement. Bands play. Some hand out cups of water, Gatorade, even beer. Others dress up in costumes to make the runners smile. The fact that other people can run this far makes us believe we can run that far. It’s a happy thought. It makes us all feel a little bit stronger.

It does indeed.

 

They Ran Into the Fire

Two weekends ago we were in Pennsylvania for Robert's grandmother's 90th birthday party. It was a wonderful weekend of activities that included a buffet lunch on Sunday after church in the fellowship hall. During the lunch we sat with my mother-in-law's cousin, who was a police officer for many years before he retired. He now investigates crime scenes, if I remember correctly.

We were talking about their recent vacation to France when we heard someone call out "Fire! Fire!" The sterno underneath the steam tables had ignited some paper wrappings nearby.

Many people jumped up to help. But nobody moved faster than cousin Will.

After the fire was out and people were settled back into their lunches, we all joked about his superb reflexes and the impulse to be the first into the fray, even during a luncheon for a 90-year-old. I'm sure it's the training.

Thought about him again today when I saw this:

BH6vVVWCIAIK4Q7

Hug a first responder today. If you don't have one handy, anyone else will do.

And as a second responder, I agree with Patton Oswalt. For me it's a theological affirmation:

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

title comes from the West Wing episode Twenty Hours in America