• The best way to deal with the tragedy is to be ourselves. One thing that always bothered me about 9/11 was that, in the aftermath, we failed to do that. We were afraid. Even as we waved the American flag, we had second thoughts about our resilience. Civil liberties became peacetime indulgences. Our justice system wasn't suitable for trying terrorist suspects. We declared humor dead, wondered about the fates of major cultural events and even questioned the viability of elections. The so-called beacon of freedom wrapped itself in plastic sheeting and duct tape, emerging only to go shopping on the then-president's advisement. Things will never be the same. Watch what you say!
If such fear didn't necessarily mean the terrorists won, neither did it speak well of American ideals. We're not supposed to cower to cowards. It's what they want, and it's what we shouldn't want. I hope the 2014 Boston Marathon draws more runners (and larger crowds) than ever before. The race, with its eclectic crowds, worldwide participation and sense of community, epitomizes America at its best. It should continue to reflect that spirit.
• That said, I realize that some American actions overseas have led to the deaths of innocents. That's inexcusable and deserves investigation. But that illustrates the contrast between politics and humanity. I suspect that most citizens of most countries just want what Americans want — peace, safety and prosperity. We're all more alike than different and would harbor no real animosity toward each other if we could meet. Bad political decisions and/or handfuls of highly motivated sociopaths are where the real friction lies.
• We still don't know who's to blame for this tragedy and thus it's too early to speculate. But I'm confident that whoever it was, is a worthless coward or group of cowards. Call it a hunch. My hope is that we capture him/them quickly and give him/them a fair trial. Because again, that's what we're supposed to be about.
• It's amazing what people will pass on as fact when little is known. I saw several heart-tugging, full-on graphics that claimed the 8-year-old who died was an adorable girl/boy (depending on which stock running-child picture they used) who (in one case at least) was running for the Sandy Hook victims.
Never mind that the explosions happened among the spectators, or that no media outlet had released a name. It made for a poignant meme and that was that. Turns out the deceased is a boy named Martin Richard of Dorchester, who was waiting with his family for his father to cross to finish line. His mom and sister were also injured, with another sister unhurt. Truth is sad enough without the fiction.
Speaking of fiction:
• Ah, Alex Jones and the "false flag" trolls. Get a life, guys. You're to conspiracies what stoners are to pot legalization — the absolute worst poster boys. Maybe if you didn't think everything in the universe was a conspiracy, somebody would take you seriously. I'm not really sure why the federal government would undertake a complicated plot to curtail civil liberties when we've been more than OK with giving them up on our own. More likely, a very small man (or men) got together, planted some pipe bombs and exploded them. It may be unsexy to admit it, but the simplest explanations are usually the correct ones.
• Despite being busy with our respective pursuits and often not seeing eye-to-eye politically, my sister and I spent several hours watching the disaster coverage and talking nearly nonstop about the bombing, politics and life. When I finally turned off the reports, I did so confident that we will break through our artificial boundaries and rally as people, no matter who or where we are. At our best, that's what we do.
Let's be our best.