The Enemy Within

Man's eye after digital manipulation
Man's eye after digital manipulation

I live in the greatest city on Earth, Boston. Its multitude of higher learning institutions is unparalleled. Its hospitals and medical care facilities rival the finest in the world, and the beauty of its land, sea and architecture cannot be beaten. It is the birthplace of creativity and freedom. Its sports fans are the most fervent in the nation. The people of Boston are strong, brash, stoic, loving, resilient and accepting. It is the city of my rebirth, the city that opened its arms to me and the city that allowed me to marry the love of my life, so I will defend Boston against her enemies and declare my undying love until I can no longer speak.

I watched in horror when the bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, and I wept for those who were injured or killed. When the police roped off the street in front of my office in Harvard Square because of a bomb threat, I cursed the enemies. They are cowards, I thought. They are unknown terrorists who will eventually be found and held accountable. And when they are found, life will return to normal.

I watched the news and concentrated on the positive: the outpouring of love, the strangers helping strangers and the marathoners finishing the race and running directly to Mass General Hospital to give blood. This was Boston and her people at their finest. These were the people I loved.

And then I read this tweet:


It crippled me. It crippled me with hatred and anger.

Not only had this person from some other state attacked me, but she had attacked my city. I wanted her to feel the fear and hatred that I felt. I wanted her to feel the fear that we all felt in Boston on that day when the bombs went off. When I read her past tweets, I discovered that she'd used the "N" word and the "F" word. She'd had followers who had retweeted her ugly words. I wanted to call them all names. They are the scum of the Earth, I thought.

I engaged them and tried to shame them. They replied with ugly words. This is the enemy, I thought. They are like the people who mocked me and made me feel inferior when I was struggling as a gay child in North Carolina. This is the real enemy. It is us, the enemy within.

My anger consumed me.

And that is when the enemy won. They took something from me. No, I gave them something: my power. I allowed some digital ones and zeros in another part of the world to alter my message of love. The enemy was not some foreign cell in the Middle East, nor was it the collective "us." The enemy was me. I was my own enemy, because I'd allowed myself to become consumed with hate and anger.

And then I let it go, because I have learned that giving in to hate defeats us. In the end, right will never be defeated by wrong.

I am Boston; I will not give up my power. We are strong, brash, stoic, loving, resilient and accepting; we are the birthplace of freedom and equality in this nation.

We are the greatest city on Earth.

William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life