President Obama spoke last night about what happened in Boston, but the person who really set the tone was comedian Patton Oswalt. Â A few hours after the tragedy, and before President Obama spoke, he posted the following on his Facebook page:
Before reading his post I was worried, worried that this tragedy would be yet another excuse for America to sink into an abyss of violence and hatred as it did after 9/11. Â I was so relieved when I saw this pop up on Gawker yesterday afternoon, and to have seen it referenced again and again as people try to make sense of the tragedy.
Shortly after 9/11, President Bush famously framed the tragedy in terms of good vs. evil: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Â In his worldview, good and evil were well-matched and in mortal combat. Â The allegiance of every individual (and nation) mattered in determining the outcome. Â In Patton’s worldview there is also a contest between good and evil, but good has already won and always will. Â The contrast is striking.
Oswalt has no position of power, no rank, no Press Secretary, no office. Â He is just a slightly-better-known citizen who happened to see the tragedy and had a means of easily sharing it with the country and the world. Â The fact that Americans sought out and amplified (via shares and likes) this optimistic and compassionate view of the Boston tragedy gives me tremendous hope that we can be a better nation. Â People didn’t choose the frame dictated to them by politicians, they chose the frame offered by a peer, and amplified it.