When things happen like the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, it’s both the hardest and easiest thing to write about. Easy, because there’s so much to talk about in the midst of human tragedy, yet hard because it’s hard to talk about without being trite.
There are two directions one can go. Writers, yours truly being a repeat offender, are often guilty of tying things up into nice, neat packages filled with sweeping conclusions intended to make us all feel better, but really accomplish little more than making us look sanctimonious at best, and at worst, insensitive (if not insulting) to the victims.
On the other end, one go on a stream-of-conscience ramble. That’s not my nature. But in light of the dangers of the first, plus the nature our world being suddenly reduced to chaos and sorrow, it only seems appropriate, so here I go.
Being a parent has changed my life forever. I didn’t need a tragedy like yesterday to know to enjoy every day that I have with my daughter, or to remember to hug or kiss her. If there’s one gift that God gave me that I think I sort of comprehend how blessed I am to have, it’s that one.
That gift has also given me an empathy for the families of yesterday’s victims like I could never have before. Nobody expects they’re going to lose an 8-year-old son watching his daddy run a marathon, just as the Sandy Hook parents were equally stunned at the evil that rocked their worlds. I cannot comprehend the pain of their losses, or how they’ll carry on in the coming days, and my prayers go to them.
I’ve also thought a lot about the police and security people. To those of us who protected us so many times — times when we didn’t know to thank you because, for our own peace of mind, you never let us know there was a threat — I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
In the coming days, facts will emerge and we’ll learn what happened. The narrative of this will be woven backwards and all the rough edges polished over to paint a seemingly-coherent picture of what happened. The details that don’t fit, or don’t seem to fit — the hundreds, even thousands of details that you had to sort through and determine if they were relevant– will be sanded over, or more likely, lost for the ages, because we like our explanations clean and simple.
At this point, in spite of all the times you’ve kept us safe, the finger-pointing will begin. It’s likely that the story will make you look careless, or foolish, or both, and biggest stones will be thrown by politicians who don’t have half your intelligence or a fraction of your integrity. A lifetime of your achievement will be wiped out by a random moment of diabolical insanity that you critics, had they been in your shoes, wouldn’t have seen coming, either. If that’s how this does down, my heart goes out to you, also.
People are shocked when these things happen. Even the good among us are more capable of doing bad things than we realize; it only takes a day like yesterday to show what people with no moral grounding can do. Because of that, I’m only surprised events like yesterday don’t happen more. It doesn’t seem true in the midst of a tragedy like yesterday, but it’s only by the grace of God than they don’t. We like to think we can control things, but yesterday showed how unrestrained evil can be when it wants something badly enough.
And speaking of God, whoever did this may be shrewd enough or lucky enough to go to his grave without getting caught, although in this age of security cameras and mobile devices everywhere, it seems less likely. I can’t offer much in the way of comfort to anyone outside a few thoughtful words and some prayers, but in times like these, it’s easy to forget that there’s one judgment that the person or people who did this can never escape, and it’ll be a lot worse than what we could even dream of doing to them.
Until tomorrow, say your prayers and count your blessings.