Hitting Close to Home

Boston - Back Bay: Boylston Street (Aerial)

Boston’s Boylston Street in better days.

The bombing at today’s Boston Marathon was senseless and shocking.  It is far too soon to even speculate as to the perpetrators or their motives, or for me to adequately focus my reaction into a coherent form.  But, as events like this often do, it has provoked some reflection.

I’m not from Boston and I don’t live there now.  But, I did.  I moved there many years ago a few days after the beginning of the new millennium.  The move was a formative moment in my life, as it was my first step toward real independence.  After flirting with college for a few years, I moved away from home to a city far away from everyone and everything I knew, all alone for the very first time.


Boston is a beautiful city, and the Marathon is a vital part of that.  I lived for a while near Symphony Hall, a few blocks from the Boston Public Library, the traditional finish line of the race.  And, many times I walked down Boylston Street, along the same blocks where thousands of runners annually complete their trek and where today two bombs exploded, raining chaos and debris over a crowd assembled to celebrate a remarkable feat of human endurance.


I have stood in the very spot where today lives and limbs were lost.  And, though that shouldn’t make a difference, somehow it does.  Any bombing is a tragedy, including those that plague the Middle East on a seemingly daily basis.  But, this one feels different because it happened here, in someplace I know, in a place that is dear to me.


But, though an event like this is heartbreaking, I know that my sadness and my shock are a pale shadow of those of the people who are there in Boston today.  My thoughts are with them and I hope that they somehow find a way to cope with what happened to them and get on with their lives.


However, while my heart goes out to those in Boston, I am reminded that this type of shocking and devastating violence is not just an American tragedy.  These things happen all the time, all over the world.  And, each of them leaves victims just like those that I saw on my television today and people heartbroken because it happened in a place that is dear to them.


So, while I am sad for what happened today, I am also sad that we live in a world where things like this happen on far too many other days.  I am sad that there are people who want to literally blow other people apart, to cause mass destruction and devastation in order to make some kind of point or spread some kind of message.


I don’t really know what to think and I don’t really know how to make these things stop.  But, I know that I want them to stop.  I want people to stop killing each other and I want them to stop thinking that blowing each other up accomplishes anything other than causing sadness and anger and devastation and loss.  There is nothing gained from events like this.


I left Boston years ago, moving first across town and then across the country, but it is still a special place to me, as it is to millions of other people.  It will survive what happened today, even if some of its people were not so lucky.


Moving to Boston helped me grow up.  It made me stronger.  And, today’s events, tragic as they are, will help others to do the same.  But, it is awful, something that we will never forget, and something that I never want to see again.  But, saddest of all, I know I will.


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