The conspiracy theories are already flashing across the internet, and who knows exactly what happened. Just at present, nobody except the perpetrators. What we do know right now is that an act of great cruelty was perpetrated, in the form of detonating bombs that appear to have been designed to destroy people’s arms and legs. That is vile, but what is even more vile is that this was intentionally done to runners, in order to make the act seem as depraved as possible.
It seems that literally not a day passes now that we do not hear of a bombing or mass killing somewhere in the world. After Newtown, mass murder attacks in the US seem almost to have become a fad among the insane. Whether this one was perpetrated by home grown psychopaths or some terror organization remains to be seen.
There is a large question to be addressed in all of this. It is, how do we remain a civil society in the face of such assaults? We have already had to give up or curtail many of the rights that are precious to a free people, and each incident, whether it is domestic terror like the Newtown shooting or international terrorism, as it appears the Boston Marathon may be, the outcome will always be the same: more fear, followed by less freedom. But how can we do otherwise? If we sent the TSA home, for example, how long would it be before the next plane was hijacked? We cannot know the answer, so the TSA must remain in place.
I lead a very quiet, prayerful and meditative life. I spend a great deal of my time in thought, attempting to find ways of articulating the meaning of the close encounter experience, which I regard as the most important event in our time, and probably in all time. It takes a lot to distract me from this effort, but the suffering of others does that. I wish that I could put my arms around the runners lying in hospitals right now, facing the loss of their limbs. I felt the same way on 911, and in so many other cases. I think that we should all open ourselves to such feelings all the time, and to direct our prayers toward the red cloud of suffering that surrounds them.