As of 6:00 pm on this Tax Day (and Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts), Monday,April 15, 2013, two explosions occurred near the finish line at The Boston Marathon, killing two and injuring scores. These are the early reports. Certainly there are more questions than answers at this moment, but already we are hunkering down, and fearful of more danger in the coming hours, days, and weeks. News commentators have proclaimed that the terrorists have scored a win, as authorities have already admonished citizens to stay home. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of The White House has been closed to pedestrians this evening.
The Boston Marathon, one of the great annual events, is usually a joyful experience for spectators and runners alike. While the individuals compete against each other, there is also a sense of community–of spectators cheering on the runners and offering water to all. It’s about personal best and fellowship. It’s one of the least divisive sporting events. Until a bomb goes off.
The Boston Marathon is both a local event and a global one. It is viewed around the world as those competing hail from all over. Today’s blast is not only an act of terror, instilling fear through violence, but it is horrifying. Bostonians and those visiting this great city have been terrorized. The rest of us watching from afar may also feel fear (terror) that there are more imminent attacks, and that they may not be limited to Boston. But what we all should feel is horror.
Violence may be endemic to the human condition, but we have transformed many of humanity’s ills and diminished the prevalence of violence from time to time. As we consider laws to reduce gun violence, there are simultaneous calls to arm teachers in schools to protect students. Many see the answer to violence as being better armed. This was the proposition behind the Cold War. More nuclear arms would prevent war. So how do we reconcile the need for safety with the need to go about our lives, and to prevent horrifying accidents?
Of course, this was no accident. This was terror–whether it was homegrown or international. Chaos and fear ensued, and disrupted a magnificent day. And there were many horrific injuries as well as a couple of deaths. We need to not only be safe from harm, but teach our children that violence is not a solution. We now have a generation who have grown up since 9/11 who are more exposed to violence from our two wars, multimedia, popular culture, and more demands for guns as an expression of freedom, rather than freedom from guns and violence.
We won’t be able to control or eliminate all acts of violence, random or planned, but we can teach our children that violence is horror, not freedom.
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