Boston, the day after: Back to normal, but not really

A choir was singing "Danny Boy"

On the Boston Common, an early evening peace vigil (Photo: DY)

Had you been transported to Boston’s busy Downtown Crossing area at lunchtime today, it may not have been evident that just the day before, at least three people died and over a hundred were injured (many severely) by two bombs that were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a few short subway stops away.

You would’ve seen the usual scurrying about, with some folks carrying bags from quick shopping trips, and others lining up at one of the food carts for a bite to eat.

Indeed, on the surface, much of Boston looked pretty normal today, the major exceptions being that part of town regarded as a crime scene and thus closed off to the general public, as well as increased security in the public transportation system. Otherwise, most offices, schools, and stores were open for business.

Just another working day, yes?

Hardly. You can’t see what’s going through everyone’s minds, but mark my words, very few people were not in some way distracted, anxious, preoccupied, upset, angry, or grieving. I don’t think a lot of work got done today.

At this point, we don’t know who planted these bombs or why, so it’s too early to process what this all means. But Boston has been changed forever. In America, places such as Oklahoma City and New York have had to endure this on an even larger scale, and cities around the world have faced recurring acts of terrorism. Yesterday, this often insular, tribal city was forced to mature and identify with cities around the world in a terribly painful way.

But very early this evening, I found myself embracing a piece of the parochialism that at times I have struggled with so mightily. Walking through the Boston Common, I could see what appeared to be a peace vigil ahead of me and made out the sounds of a choir. I confess that my cynicism took over, as I expected to hear some 60s peace movement song, which for me would’ve rendered the gathering a bit of a cliche.

No, the choir was singing “Danny Boy,” and it sounded beautiful.

5 responses

  1. Needless to say, we are all Bostonians and marathoners … My prayers for all affected, directly and indirectly.
    I can’t help but make the connection of the violation of the human right to live safely and healthily manifested by these violent acts and all other violations of human rights — which cover a wide range but are nonetheless all extremely important. These include, not least of all, the violation of human rights at the workplace — which indeed can lead to serious illness and even death.
    All the human rights seem somehow connected — and lesson after lesson we are called to stubbornly and slowly learn, and so often seem to fail to, the criticality of making and maintaining a civil society — where human rights are given the highest status they deserve and their violation, whether by a bomb,
    or mobbing an employee to the point of depression or suicide, are recognized for what they are and not tolerated.
    We can no longer rely on evolution to transform us somatically to the persons who will survive the next essential evoluationary steps. These next steps depend on the deepening of our consciousness — waking up to our humanity — and individually and collectiving demanding — and I do mean demanding — that the ethical requirements of truly being a human being be honored.
    I come to this position as a person of faith but I think the same point can and must be reached by more sceptical humanists. Bottom line — do we continue to accept 6-year old bodies riddled with bullets and marathoners rendered legless — or we rise up collectively — and this is a power we can and must claim — and truly evolve to the status of human beings.? Our continuation of homo sapients violent conduct will not only lead us back to the cave man stage, they will also confirm that that is exactly where we still are — Ferraris and advanced degrees be damned.
    Each of us has an ethical responsibility to seriously and conscientiously evolve to be a true human being — first of which is to recognize that merely being born of homo sapiens parents does not satisfy the human evolution that is currently being demanded not only for our survival but for our survival as ethical, compassionate beings wothy of survival. SeeThe New Ethic by Erich Neumann.
    By our silence or our courage we make our world — claiming less is coping out of our greatest responsiblity.

  2. This was a beautiful piece David. Thoughts and prayers are with you up in Boston and with all those impacted by this tragedy.

  3. Tragedy is a great equalizer on any scale. We are all so vulnerable….and so strong when we work in harmony and with compassion.

    Other hearts near and far are with you all.

  4. I’d say that the problem isn’t “us.” Most people are good people – better than they know.

    The problem, and this is very hard for some people to accept, is that a minority of people literally have no conscience. For whatever reason, these people are bored by life and amused by destructive and cruel acts. The more people they can hurt, the more delighted they are. I expect the bombing in Boston was orchestrated by one of these bored evil people.

    If you are a good person, this mentality may seem impossible, but it’s not.

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