I was miles from the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded yesterday. Busy with mundane tasks, I didn’t hear much about what had happened until hours later, when I started getting text messages from out of state, people checking to see if my family and I were all right. (We are.) When I finally got caught up, I realized I was learning about something just a few miles away that was breaking news around the world. Unlike September 11, 2001, when I saw the TV images minutes after the attack, this came to me as a slow-building shock. I think it’s still building.
Are my loved ones okay? Thankfully, yes. A number of people where Allysen works were running in the marathon. They’re all okay. The soon-to-be-incoming pastor at our church was running. He’s okay. The son and daughter of someone I know made a last-minute decision not to go see the finish of the race. To the best of my knowledge, no one I know personally, or even second-hand, was physically harmed in the attack.
Emotionally is another matter. People are sad and shaky and angry and depressed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families whose lives are shattered. I find myself wondering what kind of vicious and demonized thinking can lead someone to murder and maim innocent strangers, and presumably rejoice in it. (Yes, I know, this sort of thing goes on every day, somewhere in the world. But this time it happened in my city.) I don’t propose to answer the question, because I have no answers. It’s been going on for thousands of years. But only in the recent past has it become so easy to commit acts like this with relative impunity.
I’ve never gotten personally involved in the running of the marathon, despite knowing some people who have participated. But to me, the marathon is like the Olympics: it’s a place where people from all over the world come together to compete as friends and equals. It’s a stage that brings out the best in us as people. A stage where money doesn’t matter, nationality doesn’t matter, religion and politics don’t matter. It’s a time for coming together, and celebrating the winners and almost-winners alike.
Was that why the marathon became a target? Because it celebrated the best? Because there are those who don’t like celebration, don’t like seeing people of all nations and colors running together? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for sure. But I’m pretty sure of this: It wasn’t an attack just on America; it was an attack on humanity.
Here’s a photo posted to Facebook by Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, from the International Space Station, titled A somber Spring night in Boston.
One online response to the photo was this: “Can you see our broken hearts from space?”