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.