There is nothing really adequate that can be said about what happened during the Boston Marathon on Monday. As someone who is well familiar with Boston, having grown up close by in New Hampshire, I find this event a bit more abhorrent than something which may have occurred in an area unfamiliar to me.
The bombs seem to be rather crude and simple devices, apparently pressure cookers packed with gunpowder and shrapnel They were intended to do only one thing: kill and maim as many people as possible. They succeeded in doing this, but fortunately the ready availability of first responders and the great hospitals in the Boston area saved many lives. Still, for those who were injured in this act, some with particularly gruesome injuries such as lost legs, their lives will never be same.
Perhaps the worst story is of the eight year old boy, Martin Richard, who was there to watch his father cross the finish line. After hugging his father, he returned to the stands, where the bomb went off, killing him, seriously wounding his mother and sister, the later of whom lost her leg. She was only a little girl. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief of the father on what should have been a joyous day. We should pray for him and his family and for all those killed and injured in this event and their families as well.
If you believe in God, or some spiritual nature of the world, you always ask yourself after something like this, why do such things happen? Why do people do such things? Where was God? No one can answer this. For me, such acts are a reflection of the reality of evil in our world. How do we combat evil? First, by goodness. We saw the response of people instinctively running into the bomb scene, a scene that was still quite fluid as to whether or not more bombs would explode, risking their own lives to save others. We hear about such stories of heroism in times of warfare; yesterday we saw it in action for ourselves: normal people doing extraordinary things to help others. The next way we combat evil is by going after it, finding it, and eradicating it as best we can. We can do that individually in our daily lives but also collectively as a society in different ways.
As someone said yesterday, although there is evil in the world, there is more good than evil. If mankind were completely craven and depraved, we would have destroyed ourselves a long time ago. No, we live in a world where we must deal with evil and violence, but the goodness and justice always win in the end. For me, the promotion of beauty, of finding the beauty in the world and writing about that, is one way of lessening the evil and darker sides of life. Yes, there is evil and ugliness in the world, but there is also goodness and beauty.
Boston is a tough place. New Englanders are a tough people. Our history goes back to those first Pilgrims who braved the harsh Atlantic seas in 1620 and the brutal Massachusetts winter to create a new settlement and start a new society. Most of the members of that first voyage died during that first difficult year in Plymouth, but that did not deter the survivors from building of a new community that eventually became this country. The American Revolution began in Boston. We fought the British, the greatest army in the world at the time, losing the battles such as Bunker Hill but still maintaining the fight until the British finally left the city they had besieged and blockaded. It is a city, despite its schizophrenic relationship with its puritanical past, devoted to liberty. It is a city perhaps more steeped in history, culture, intellect and artistic and architectural beauty than any other in this country. Traditions, such as the Boston Marathon, the oldest continuous Marathon in the world, are a vital part of the city’s character. Sports, politics, religious controversy, intellectual richness, these are part of the spirit of Boston. That spirit is still alive today. A few murderers will never be able to hinder that spirit. I am confident the perpetrators of this heinous act will be brought to justice, and that love, peace and freedom will always prevail in places like Boston, and in the United States. Hope demands this.