Our world changed once again on April 15 in Boston. In another senseless act of terror, three innocent people were killed and more than 180 others were injured.
I am a runner. I have been running for most of my adult life and have completed many official running events. Running a race and enjoying the camaraderie, the environment and the energy make the event more than just a run or a race.
The races embody the spirit of America at its best: runners and supporters from all walks of life, most of whom unfamiliar with one another, experience an incredible sense of community without having to express a word.
To me, there is nothing more personal, and at the same time, more intimate and universal as running; it is a feeling of completeness.
I am also a father and a high school teacher. My world changed on April 15, just as it did on Sept. 11, 2001. That day, I remember leaving my home and entering the school doors and having to explain to a classroom full of seniors the need to be resolute in knowing that however horrific that act of terror was, they still lived in a good world and their destinies were yet to be fulfilled.
In truth, part of me died that day.
Last week, as I watched the news feeds from Boston and listened to eyewitness accounts of the horror, I felt a part of me dying again, becoming reduced to the same level of sadness and helplessness that I experienced on 9/11: a feeling of dread and unparalleled disbelief in the base nature of humanity.
How could someone plan such a horrific event, creating mass carnage on the streets of America, amidst one of our finest defining events? What amount of sheer evil could possibly take innocent lives, for whatever lone cause? These questions continue to haunt me.
My heart and soul feel deeply for all of the victims of this tragedy, for the families that had to wait for outcomes, and those whose lives are still changing and hanging in the balance. If prayers alone were the balm to heal the wounds, I would spend an eternity in deep meditation. My hope is that we, as a nation, can send a tidal wave of prayers, hope, love and compassion to all of those involved.
Clearly, the accounts of heroic responses, acts of valor and heartfelt concerns from Americans attest to the greatness of this nation’s people.
My daughter, like millions of other daughters across America, called her father with an ominous sense of disbelief in this crisis and a fear of not knowing how this nation would respond to this tragedy. My instinct was to allay her fears and to reassure her that this is still a great country and world, just as I said to my seniors on 9/11.
I wanted to assure her that we Americans are bound to one another in ways not often articulated; we are a people who will not let terrorists deter our freedoms, beliefs and commitment to universal good. She needed to know that it is still a very good world, made up of a majority of people who wish for the betterment of mankind, not the destruction of innocent people for some ideological, political belief or because of serious pathological disorders.
In part, my recitations to her helped me reconfirm my own conviction: that no matter how horrific and ungodly this act was, as a country – inextricably bound to one another – we will rise above it.
Tomorrow, as usual, I will put on my running gear and run. And, in running, as in writing, I will once again feel alive. I will run and pray for the lost lives, for those in peril, and seek a quiet reflection – in memorial and anthem – for the victims, families, Boston and this great nation.