It has been a hellish week, this vacation week that so many of us in Massachusetts looked forward to. Today we are about and around in sunny, but unseasonably cool spring weather. The grass has finally decided to green up, daffodils feel safe poking up from the damp earth. Most of our routines have returned normally – things seem the same, but they are forever changed.
In New England we continue to feel pain. Words fail most of us. So we hug, we cry, we read – and some of us write, or at least try to do so.
Yes, the suspects – or at least the ones who seem directly connected by evidence – of this heinous atrocity seem to be either dead or locked up. But I defy any human not to think of the four victims of Marathon Monday’s bombing without an indelible sadness of 4 lives that were cut short too soon. Or the lives of those people who, simply by going outdoors on a fine April morning, now have the climb of a lifetime ahead of them. Will we ever feel safe again in a crowd?
Yesterday, a priest at St. Irene’s Church in Carlisle gave one of the most powerful homilies about evil and good that I have ever heard. At the end of his talk he read this Facebook posting from Cam Siciliano, which I quote here:
I don’t want to know his name. I don’t want to see his face. I don’t want to know his life’s history, his back-story, who his family is, where he went to school, or what he liked to do in his spare time. I don’t want to know what “cause”, if any, he was fighting for. I don’t want to know why he did it, or may have done it, or what possessed him to carry out his actions. I don’t want to know. Because that’s what he really wants. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give him what he wants.
Put him on trial, but don’t cover it. Tell me when you decide to jail him for three lifetimes – because that number matters. That’s the number of lives he has to now pay for. That’s all I want to know about him. Nothing else.
Instead, tell me about the first responders who ran towards the fray, within seconds, fearless. Tell me about the ones wearing the yellow volunteer jacket, or the neon police vest, or even the ones in the regular everyday t-shirt who became a helper. Tell me the story about the first responder who held gauze over a wound until they made it to the hospital. Tell me the story about the volunteer who held the hand of the injured spectator until they got into the ambulance. In six months, tell me the story of those who lost a limb, who beat the odds, pulled through countless surgeries, and are learning to walk again. Tell me the story about the love, the compassion, and the never-ending support of thousands, millions, of people who support the victims here. Tell me their stories. Tell me everything you can, because they are the ones that matter. Tell me of the good that they have done, are doing, and will continue to do, regardless of… No, not regardless of, in spite of. In spite of that someone who would do them harm. Because that’s what freedom in this country means. It means coming together in the hardest of times, even in the face of unfathomable adversity, to make life better for all those around us.
Tell me the good stories. That’s all I want to hear.
I know that at some point I need to learn about the two alleged perpetrators of this atrocity. If there is something that can be gleaned from their self-destructive path that will help the disenfranchised students that I often-times see, I will need to reflect on that. Maybe there is some connection that can be made, maybe not.
But for now, I too, need to hear about the good, the kind, the compassionate humans who rose above the evil that we have just experienced this past week. Don’t we all?