I ran (assuming a very broad definition of the verb “to run”) the Chicago Marathon once, and as I approached the finish line I only had two thoughts: I DID IT! and NEVER AGAIN! I can’t begin to imagine what the runners finishing the Boston Marathon were feeling, going from the elation of the home stretch to sheer terror in a matter of seconds. My wife and daughter were waiting at the finish line for me along with my mom, who had arranged a “work trip” so that she could be there to watch me finish. They would’ve been roughly around where the two bombs went off today, relative to the course and the finish line.
I never know what to say when things like this happen, and I wonder if often it’s better not to say anything, at least not right away. So many things that are said, reported, and assumed in the immediate aftermath of violent, confusing tragedies like this turns out to be wrong, misleading, even counterproductive. But there are a few things we do know for certain about today’s events and others like them that happen almost every day in some part of the world or another, whether the media covers them or not:
- They are senseless.
- They achieve nothing other than the infliction of pain and suffering upon the innocent.
- They are anachronisms, byproducts of more primitive impulses that have no place in the modern world.
There is nothing that can comfort the victims and their families of this bombing. As a society, though, while we mourn and wonder why, we shouldn’t lose sight of the greatness that was on display today, from first responders and everyday people who ran toward, not away from, the explosions to help the victims to marathon runners who finished a 26 mile run and kept on going to the hospital to give blood. We are better than what we think we are, but sadly still worse than what we hope we’d be.