I always have a strange and some would say heartless view of tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing. It is not that I am not engaged by such events. Rather, it is that I feel that it is wrong to elevate such events above the tragedy that we allow day after day. If this is like most days, 25 people were murdered throughout the country. Countless others were badly injured because of violent acts. I don’t think any of these are more or less tragic, although obviously I would if any of them directly affected me. If there is anything good about such events, it is that it reminds me (at least) of all the people harmed every day. Unfortunately, especially after Sandy Hook, I have come to think that as a nation, our only response will be to make matters worse.
Of course, I am interested in what is going on. One or more people went to great lengths to kill three people and injure at least 140 more. And unlike most murders, which are crimes of overwrought passions, a crime such as this is not only premeditated, but carefully calculated. It is hard to imagine it being the result of anything but that bizarre ability that people have to place ideology (politics, religion, whatever) above human life. I think such people must justify it by thinking that they are willing to die for their “cause” so it is all right to kill for it. Of course, such people never die for their causes willingly. That’s why people like Thich Quang Duc are so remarkable: because they are so rare.
But I don’t know, of course. The whole thing could just be the result of some disaffected teens who thought that detonating some bombs and killing some people would be cool. That’s just the point: other than the perpetrators, no one knows at this point. But that didn’t stop the news of the day after 3:00 pm from being made up almost exclusively with much wringing of hands by reporters and pundits. I managed to see one press conference which explained in great detail that the authorities don’t know anything and can’t comment on all the things they don’t know.
As I write this, I’m interested why someone would do such a thing. But when it is finally sorted out, I doubt it will be very edifying. I suspect that it will come down to some group of people who were mad about something that had nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, much less any of the people who were harmed. There never is a good reason why we kill each other. It’s always some variation on, “She slept with my husband.” It’s all just a big property rights conflict. But there is something about the wringing of hands and looking for simple reasons for pointless acts that strikes me as unsavory.
I think it gets much easier on the TV news staff to have such tragedies. It is 12 hours after the bombing, and other than a better casualty count, we don’t know any more. Yet cable news has been jawing away that whole time. And I suppose I find the parts where they say that their hearts go out to the victims the hardest to stomach. I just don’t buy it—not any more than if they said their hearts went out to all the other victims today.