Boston, The Other, and Less Than


The photo above is one of many taken in the moments following the two bomb blasts that rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday. Although we all know that the people in the photos are real individuals with families and friends, it’s hard to wrap your head and heart around them, especially before you know their stories.

But this photo is different for me, because two of the people in it are my friends. The couple fleeing, shown on the steps in the bottom of the photo, are named John and Janie Sloane. They are distance runners like I am. They know my husband and children. They’ve been to Mayberry.

But on Monday, they were targeted as The Other.

Someone (or maybe multiple someones) thought that John and Janie were worth injuring or killing in the name of…what? We don’t know. Whatever it is, it’s twisted and it’s evil and it’s wrong. If this someone or someones had shared a meal at the Cracker Barrel with John and Janie, like I have, would they still have done it?

I write here about the importance of seeing every individual as just that – a person with feelings and families and VALUE. But the events of this week have reminded me that lots of folks haven’t gotten the message. The someone(s) had to believe that John and Janie are Less Than in order to do what they did.

Viewing any person or group of people as Less Than is dangerous.

Abuse and sexual violence are perpetrated against people with intellectual disabilities much too often. Jews were slaughtered in Germany by the millions during the Nazi era. More recently, infants – many older and larger than my own daughter was at birth – were routinely delivered, had their spines cut with scissors, and were flushed down toilets.

All because someone – or many someones – believed they were Less Than.

It’s easy to become comfortable with our lives – to freak out about things that are first world problems and to believe that we’re safe from being targeted because we live in a safe community or we don’t push the envelope too much.

I don’t know why people like Kermit Gosnell and the Boston bomber(s) did unspeakable evil. I accept that it can’t ever be fully explained. What worries me is how many people can be convinced not to speak up when they see evil – how many are unwilling to stand up and say, “No more.”

Any of us can be The Other in someone else’s eyes. Never forget it.


  1. Beth Ramos says

    Had dinner with John and Janie last night – they were where they were because John’s niece-in-law ran for a charity that a good friend of my family works for, and who was standing behind them, but they never met. I could tell you of multiple connections to the Marathon that made me realize how small the world really is. Even the young men who did this are family to someone – let’s pray for healing for us all.