I wandered into the newsroom shortly after the bombs went off in Boston Monday. The televisions were on and the sound up.
“What’s going on?” I asked. They told me.
So, it’s happened. We feared it would; we knew it would; we couldn’t stop it. There would be a gathering on a significant day and innocent people would die.
It happens every day across the world, just not here.
As a rule, Americans don’t blow each other up. Of course, there are heartbreaking exceptions. We considered those bombings — the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma — aberrations. Times would get better. They always did.
After 9/11 and after Monday, we don’t expect better times.
We have better cell phones and computers, rapid medical advancements — but people, or at least some of them, seem headed in the wrong direction.
As this goes to press on Thursday, we don’t know who is responsible for the bombings.
One bomb was housed in pressure cookers, they say. A pressure cooker full of metal and ball bearings and nails. The bombs were designed to inflict maximum damage. They succeeded.
There was a photo I hope you will never see. It came across the Associated Press website, and no responsible newspaper would use it. It’s too horrifying. We saw what bombs do to flesh and bone.
It’s hard to imagine minds so warped they could wish this on someone they’ve never met, someone standing on a sidewalk cheering, someone running a race, some child thinking, “one day that will be me running on two strong legs with the roar of the crowd pushing me on.”
People’s eardrums ruptured from the blasts; they were thrown to the ground. It’s as if someone pulled the street out from under them.
They pulled the world out from under us.
What will we do with our fear?
Live in the moment, I keep saying to those around me, but I’m just whistling in the dark.
The “now” is a straitjacket for a people with dreams. Americans live for the future, for the next best thing. Take that away from us and you no longer have America. Is that what “they” intend to do? I fear it is.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” a great man once said. Unfortunately, we’re so frightened we no longer recognize what we feel as fear.
What is the world coming to? This, I’m afraid.
I’m a good one to sound the positive note in writing, though not always in my life. I’m sorry, I can’t summon it here. Not after what happened Monday. Maybe later when we have some answers, some perspective, if that’s possible.
Now, life in America feels like treading water while we wait for the next wave to hit.
Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.