The act of terror in the Boston Marathon bombing was swiftly met by acts of help and comfort for victims and others. Such actions point to the need to affirm all of that which the bomber sought to destroy.
The identity of the Boston Marathon bomber remains unknown, but that should not dampen the many efforts to challenge the possible motives for this terrorist tragedy. In fact, one challenge started within seconds of the blasts.
Instead of fleeing the smoky carnage near the finish line in Boston’s Back Bay, dozens of spectators and runners joined the police and rushed to aid the injured, despite the risk of another bomb. They helped relieve the fear and suffering of victims by flooding the scene with compassion and assurance, whether it was with a tourniquet, a wheelchair, words of comfort, or a prayer.
They ranged from New England Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi to peace activist Carlos Arredondo. Local hotels and restaurants helped those runners and others affected by the devastation. Many runners and spectators vowed to return next year.
Many of those helping at the scene acted in the spirit of Psalms 91: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Across the city, people reminded each other of the need to affirm all of that which the bomber sought to destroy. They noted the spirit of the world’s oldest marathon and the meaning of the local Patriots’ Day holiday that celebrates the opening battles of the American Revolutionary War.
As Americans discovered after 9/11 as well as many others, how we react to terrorism is as important as catching the terrorists. Fear is the terrorists’ most desired outcome. And while higher degrees of caution and safety may be needed, fear must not be the answer. Whatever reasons are used to justify the killing of civilians, they will eventually be made powerless when enough people attest to and live by the values of a free, caring, and peaceful society.