Monday’s tragic bombings in Boston, in which three people died and 176 wounded, many grievously, must remind all of us here in the United States of something our brethren in Israel have known for the last 65 years: Life is an ever-so-precious gift that can be snatched away in the blink of an evil eye.
It is not clear as of the writing of this editorial who was responsible for this gruesome, cowardly act. The nature of the two bombs that exploded within 12 seconds of each other along the final few hundred feet of the Boston Marathon’s route to Copley Square leaves no doubt that hate is at the heart of the matter. A low-grade explosive placed low to the ground and packed with ball bearings and nails, and timed to explode when the most runners would be arriving at the finish line or standing behind the barricades to cheer them on, has only one purpose: not so much to kill as to maim permanently, and in horrible ways. How many victims have had their lower limbs amputated because of the two blasts remains unreported and perhaps even unknown as yet, but one marathon runner described the scene this way to a New York Times reporter:
“These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now…. There are so many people without legs…. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting.”
One of the victims was an 8-year-old boy. A 3-year-old child is in critical condition, among the 176 wounded.
In the end, it does not matter whether the terrorists were foreign (read Muslim) or domestic (read white supremacist). Alleged motive also is irrelevant. Hate is hate; who cares why? All that matters is what hate brings with it.
It is almost certain that there was more than one person behind this crime. This was too well planned and coordinated an attack for that not to be true. It required researching the last few marathons, to see when the heaviest concentration of runners and their cheering squads would arrive at the finish line. It required researching and surveillance of security measures in and around the marathon route, to enable the bombs to be placed without alerting the bomb-sniffing dogs that patrol it. Most likely, it required two people to place the two bombs, and perhaps others to have planned the attacks and assembled the weapons.
We live in a world too filled with hate, too filled with fear of the other, too filled with the heady triumphalism that is born of religious and political extremism. Where does the hate come from? It comes from us. We nurture hate. Talk shows are misnamed; today, they are scream shows, with one talking head shouting invectives at another. And we allow it by watching these shows. Our legislatures no longer are the bastions of compromise; today, they are arenas of discord and invective and the sowing of the seeds of class warfare. And we allow it by re-electing these people over and again.
Polarization breeds hate; hate breeds death and destruction; death and destruction breed more hate.
It need not be an endless cycle.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil,” Edmund Burke is alleged to have written, “is that good men do nothing.”
Good men and women, the time is long overdue for us to do something.
And yet, there is something good that has come out of the horror – not good enough to balance it, not even almost, but good nonetheless.
When the explosions went off, many bystanders ran not away but toward them, toward the victims, conquering fear in the desire to help, to succor, to help others hold on. Amid the black smoke of hatred, these were gleaming strands of goodness.