Flags and Helpers (x)

But if you look at the videos, and by now I assume that most of us have, you see two extraordinary things. First, you see all these flags along the race route, all these representations of nationalism. I mean, the flag is the thing that you turn to when you sing your nation anthem. It’s the thing that you pledge allegiance to. It’s a symbol of you being part of a particular ‘us’ - the Zambian 'us,’ the Norwegian 'us,’ the American 'us,’ - and by extension, all the people who aren’t American or Norwegian or Zambian are part of a 'them.’ But in the videos from the marathon bombings, you see all these flags lined up together, none higher than any other. Those 96 flags representing the nations of people running the Boston Marathon are side by side because they stand for a larger 'us’ - an 'us’ sharing a human endeavor that doesn't require a 'them.’ And the flags aren’t blown over by the explosion, but within seconds some of those flags do come down. They come down when people - onlookers, volunteers, first responders - tear down the barricades to get to the injured.