Richard Bernstein is no stranger to tough situations. As someone who is visually impaired, heâs had to face numerous challenges in life–challenges that might make some folks throw up their hands and give up.
But Richard isnât defined by his challenges, heâs defined by his defiance of them and the many accomplishments heâs achieved despite the daunting odds against him. Those experiences give him a perspective and insight few others possess, and that insight was just tapped in an interview with SheKnows.comâs Allison Ziering Walmark on the recent terror attack at the Boston Marathon and what we can all learn from it.
Attorney, Advocate, Marathon Runner
For those unaware, in addition to being a highly skilled attorney and influential activist for the disabled, Richard has participated in an amazing 17 marathons through the years. In fact, it was during his recent training for an 18th race that Richard was seriously injured by a bicyclist in New Yorkâs Central Park.
Beyond overcoming physical challenges, running in marathons, being injured in preparation for a marathon, Richard is even further experienced by the fact that while he was preparing to run in the inaugural 2011 Jerusalem Marathon in Israel, a different terror bombing took place just one day before the event, taking the life of one person and wounding 39 others.
In his interview, Richard makes the point that despite the carnage of the previous day, not a single marathon runner withdrew from the Jerusalem event. Not one. And that it is just exactly this duality–these opposing forces of good and evil, right versus wrong, strength versus weakness–that make up life.
Later in the SheKnows.com article, during a speech given to special needs individuals, their families, their physical therapists and aides, Richard speaks eloquently about the nature of dealing with extraordinary and, sometimes, extraordinarily difficult situations.
âWe may never get over it,â Richard says, âJust get on with it.â
Whether itâs dealing with a personal injury, a physical disability, or even a terrorist attack, Richardâs words ring true. You canât control life, youâve got to keep going.
âLife is a marathon,â he says, going on to describe âMile 20â when heâs running a marathon.
âYou are in agonizing pain,â Richard says, âevery step is indescribable misery. Then, remarkably, at this time of great pain, the body and spirit are so intertwined and woven that you canât tell them apart. At Mile 20, if given the opportunity to disconnect from the body, the spirit can soar…the spirit can guide the body to accomplish its objective and overall mission.â
Bostonâs âMile 20â Moment
In Boston, marathon runners became the walking wounded. But in the blast wave of the explosions–and the emotionally exhausting and frightening manhunt that followed–both sides of human nature were revealed for all to see.
It wasnât just the evil of those who would indiscriminately kill the innocent on display. No. Even more evident was the goodness and bravery that can be summoned in a desperate situation; spectators who used their own clothes to bind wounds, first responders who made order of chaos, citizens who chose to run to help, rather than run in fear.
Like Richard, they ran toward their grave challenges. Boston passed its Mile 20 Moment.