Monday, April 15th, 2013

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It’s hard to know what to make of evil, or what to say about it. What can anyone say about the incomprehensible? Who has the words to express what cannot even be understood? That kind of evil isn’t even worth the effort of putting words on paper. But what I did see today on the news that I choose to remember was endless displays of all that is best in mankind, all that gives me hope, all that reaffirms my faith in God.

People of every stripe and race and sex rushed to help strangers. Some were professionals, the police and medics and firemen and soldiers who have been trained to some degree to help their fellow citizens, but there were also countless hundreds, maybe thousands, of ordinary citizens who had come out to enjoy a festive day, cheer on runners known and unknown, spend time with their friends and families, who ran toward the danger, toward the smoke and screams, toward the injured. There were glimpses—sometimes in the background of footage intended to show us other things, more dreadful things—of everyday private citizens kneeling in blood to offer aid or comfort, helping to carry stretchers, push the wheelchairs that were intended for exhausted runners, assisting those who could walk. In the background of one shot there was a quick glimpse of a woman who may have had medical training, but who was dressed in civilian clothes, on her knees, vigorously performing CPR amid the chaos, her ponytail flipping up behind her. There was the doctor interviewed in front of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who had been performing surgery continuously since eight that morning, who had seen what he euphemistically described as “on-site amputations” (meaning limbs blown off at the scene), who remained calm, organized, thoughtful, well-spoken, polite, humane—and human—under circumstances that would have transformed and undone me, and who, after his comments, excused himself, saying he had to go back in to do more surgery, cope with more horrors.

And there were countless others like him. So I have nothing to say about evil. I choose not even to think about it or acknowledge it; others will do that who are better suited for the job than I. Evil of some lesser and godless life form caused the horrors in Boston, but all he or they achieved was to put on display the very best of mankind, the very best of humanity, for all the world to see. God bless the good people of Boston. God bless America.

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