3 Important Reminders from the Boston Explosions

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Marathon tweet

This morning I read about Martin Richard, an 8-year-old who was alive this time yesterday. I can see him this time yesterday, tremendously excited to see his father run the fabled Boston Marathon, and thrilled to be at the finish line to greet him with a hug.

Today Martin Richard is dead.

As our nation struggles today to come to terms with yesterday’s horrific events, there is far more we don’t know than we do know about who did this and why. Yet we are already searching for meaning in this senseless tragedy.

As I’ve combed through the news coverage, here are three perspectives I’ve found especially helpful.

1. Here at RNS, Omid Safi reminds us that “The only thing that will drive out evil is goodness. The only way to defeat darkness is with light.”

When we have a natural urge to give up on humanity because of evil acts, Safi says we need instead to “look for the helpers” — those individuals whose compassion leads the way. I’m thinking here of the runners who crossed the finished line and immediately went to Mass General to give blood from their already-depleted bodies to help the victims (see tweet below), or the first responders you can see reacting in this video.

Blogger Omid Safi points to acts of courage in the tragedy.

2. Blogger Patton Oswalt’s brief Facebook post, which went viral last night, sounds a similar theme of faith in humanity.

Oswalt captured a range of feelings in very few words, from his initial gut reaction (“Fucking horrible”) to his ultimate affirmation that the majority of people on this planet are caring and nonviolent.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

He compared this majority to “white blood cells attacking a virus,” saying that it will one day wear down the evildoers and wash away the damage they have wrought.

I hope he is right.

Patton Oswalt


3. Rev. Emily Heath writes in the Huffington Post about the significance of the finish line’s location for her family, and about her decision to let those good memories outweigh yesterday’s nightmare.

Five months ago we stood just yards from the finish line as our wedding photos were taken, right after we had said our vows. People walking by on the street congratulated us and wished us well. We could almost feel the love surrounding us that day. That’s what I remember most about that block of Boylston Street.

And that’s what I’m going to keep remembering. What happened today is a tragedy and I will mourn it with Boston and with everyone who has turned their hearts to the city tonight. But whomever it was who tried to blow the block apart, and who tried to forever turn it into a place synonymous with terror and pain…you don’t get to.

Love always wins. I believe that because I believe that God is love, and I believe that God’s love is ultimately impossible to resist. Love wins when we refuse to stop seeing it. And I refuse to stop seeing it.