Reflections on Boston

I have not written anything about the bombings at the Boston marathon. My experience is that in the immediate aftermath of such events the ratio of uninformed, unfounded, and even dangerous speculation to actual fact is extremely high so why add to it? My impulse is to try and ignore as much of the chatter as possible until we actually know something.

But it is hard to ignore all of it because it hits you from all sides and two things struck me.

One is a familiar one from previous events of this kind, the sense that some are waiting to see who is found to be responsible and are hoping that it will fit into their preconceived narrative. You have the sense of breaths being held as they wait for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ news, the category depending on what kind of group they hope will be found responsible so that they can use it to advance their agenda or defend it. Of course, others are not waiting for any facts at all and simply assume they know and are already off to the races. It seems like every pundit suddenly becomes some kind of forensic expert, arriving at sweeping conclusions based on meager, and often wrong, information. I have given up hope that the media will ignore such people.

The other is that after the initial shock that accompanies such horrific crimes that target people at random, we are at the stage of hearing heartbreaking accounts of the grief that accompanies the loss of loved ones and the trauma that the survivors are experiencing, and feeling the anger that naturally accompanies such stories.

It is perfectly natural for the strength of our emotions to decrease the further outward we go in our circle of compassion: from immediate loved ones to friends to acquaintances to those from our neighborhoods to our cities and our nations.

But one would hope that in experiencing such feelings that we also realize, at least on an intellectual level if not an emotional one, that others who are not in our inner circles of compassion also have their own similar circles and experience similar grief and heartbreak and anger when their loved ones are lost. That may help us to realize that we need to find ways to reduce the cycle of violence and not lash out blindly and thereby perpetuate it.


  1. says

    I agree. I keep reminding people that it took a while to sort out the Oklahoma City bombing, and some of the other domestic terrorism cases – give the FBI time to do their thing. Uninformed speculation should be left to the media.

  2. mobius says


    True. There was a lot of speculation early on in the OKC bombing that it was Islamic terrorists. But some good police work and a great deal of luck quickly led to McVeigh’s arrest. I might be willing to make a guess about the bomber(s), but will freely admit that it is very little more than a guess at this time.

    I saw a Republican congressman saying with great certainty Monday night that this was perpetrated by Al Queda. Such certainty, at this point, is irrational and unwarranted.

  3. The Rose says

    I like to speculate quite a bit, in private, because then when the actual facts come out, you get to examine your own prejudices. Through critical reflection, you can grow. This may not have lead me to my atheism, per se, but I believe it has helped me with all those other A positive things we talk about.

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