Making Sense of the Senseless

Boston Marathon ExplosionA new vocabulary for a new age:

  1. Shelter-in-place
  2. Lock-down
  3. Pressure Cooker Bombs
  4. Self-Radicalized
  5. Terror

Evil visited Boston last week in the guise of two seemingly ordinary young men in black and white baseball caps. In fact, they seemed so ordinary, we didn’t even recognize that they meant us harm.  It brought to mind the term, “banality of evil” which was coined by Hannah Arendt with reference to Adolf Eichmann, and referred to the shocking ordinariness of Eichmann, a man responsible for the deaths of millions during WWII.  All we could do on Marathon Monday was shake our heads and wonder “why” and hope that if the answer to the “why” of it was revealed, somehow it would bring a measure of peace or at least understanding but, alas, it did no such thing. In fact, only questions remain, so many unanswered questions.

How do we make sense of a beautiful young girl who loved to dance and now faces the rest of her life with one leg? How do we make sense of a scrawny, misguided nineteen-year old boy who just tossed his life away in the most brutal fashion imaginable, and will inevitably wake up to that fact and wonder how he got where he is?  How much hate must a person carry with them to do a thing like this? How do we make sense of the randomness of people’s injuries?  Just being a few inches to one side or another meant the difference between death, loss of a limb or walking away without a scratch.  How does one function in a world filled with such disorder and chaos?

There are no answers so I’m choosing to find comfort as so many others have in this last week.  I choose to put my faith in the essential goodness of the human spirit. I’ll continue to watch and read about all of the amazing “helpers,” the regular citizens and the first responders who completely contra to human instinct ran toward the blast to help the wounded while others offered shelter, food, phones, hugs and anything else they could think of to stranded runners.  And, I’ll remember my personal history.   I am here only because seventy years ago there were other “helpers,” who hid my mother and grandmother on their attic for over a year at tremendous personal risk to themselves. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how deep the reservoir of human goodness flows and although the evil-doers may have been ordinary, the kindness and generosity with which people responded  to their evil was simply and spectacularly extraordinary.

A new vocabulary for a new age:

  1. Helpers
  2. First Responders
  3. Resilience/Human Spirit
  4. Hope
  5. Love

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