Carnage is the only word to use about the scene that unfolded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday. Two bombs designed to inflict the maximum amount of damage for their size were detonated in a venue guaranteed to be filled with television cameras, international flags, vulnerable people and participants from many lands.
It doesn’t matter whether it was one of the criminal groups whose name we already know, a lone malcontent, or some new group seeking publicity, it was a heinous act.
We best preserve civilization by immediately looking to the good, the humanity, the acts of bravery, courage, and selflessness. Striking out blindly serves nothing. The day will come, with good investigation and determination, to bring about justice. But we’ll decide the terms, not criminals.
For now, our minds are filled with the love and care shown by those who rushed to rescue their fellow human beings. An ex-professional football player. All the police, paramedics, and firemen. A medical tent intended for patients suffering from exhaustion or heat stroke pressed into service for casualties.
People burst out of their homes throughout the city to embrace the runners, offering jackets, water, a sofa to sleep upon, a guest room, a ride to “anywhere a car goes.” We should celebrate these wonderful acts of kindness.
We should look to one another with a greater sense of humanity as well. Remember that life is what we make it, not what criminals, thugs and cowards want to cower us into. We decide. The good far outnumbers the bad. They plea for attention with their horrific acts, but they will never win. They will never achieve their cause unless we become like them. And so today, we embrace others with the warm power of humanity and concentrate on the good that was done to help, to care, to save.
The day will come when justice is met, fairly, by the rules, publicly, before a court of law so that all can see. And on that day, too, we demonstrate the difference between civilization and barbarism, between firm resolve and cruelty.
But for now, we embrace each other, pick ourselves up, and carry on today and tomorrow. There’s something to be said about the British stiff upper-lip in times like this. A Scottish friend emailed me a comment supposedly heard in England during the IRA troubles: “I’ve been blown up by better bastards than this.”
We’ve got the upper hand as long as we embrace the good, decent side of humanity.