What do we know?

I was all set to post something about National Library Week, but then, as you might have heard, bombs went off right next to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square on the  same day that a fire broke out in the mechanical room of the JFK Presidential Library, only five or six miles away.

It’s doubtful that the bombs were targeting the public library—there was a fairly important event going on at the time—or that the fire was connected to that act of detached brutality.

Both events might be connected to Patriot’s Day, though the fire might simply be an oddly-timed coincidence.

QuestionAt the time of this post, we really don’t know who or why.

We know people were badly hurt.

We know some of them died.

We know that this was not an accident.

We know that in the next few weeks, haters will hate, screamers will scream, blamers will blame, fingers will point, asses will be made of you and of me, and the deplorable state of humanity will be castigated and lamented.

We know that the monster or monsters who did this will gleefully creep back into the shadows to enjoy the chaos and the collateral damage.

We know that even if they are caught, they cannot possibly be brought to justice, because they will be incapable of admitting or understanding or learning why their actions cannot possibly be justified.


We also know that the Red Cross site crashed, overwhelmed with donations.

We know that the blood banks in Boston are full.

We know that offers of aid are still pouring in and that the London marathon has not been cancelled and runners have vowed that they will not be stopped.

We know that the downtown library of Boston  is closed today, but will be open tomorrow and that the JFK Library and Museum has remained open.

We know that life can go on, even though it breaks our hearts, and that fear won’t win if we don’t allow it to steal our strength.

These are good things to know.  It’s good to know that there are good things to know.

You know?


Eleven Years Later . . .

“Mom, what happened to the Twin Towers?” asked Janie at  dinner this past Sunday.

I put down my fork, thinking about how to explain, and my mother-in-law stepped in.  “They flew two airplanes into them,” she said.


“Terrorists,” we both answered.


“Because they wanted to kill as many people as possible in as big a way as possible,” I said.  “So everyone would see.”

Her eyes went wide and her brown wrinkled.  “But why would they kill all those people?”

“So that everyone would pay attention.  They blamed out country for everything that was going wrong in the world, and they wanted everyone to know.”

“That’s not . . . why didn’t they just talk to us?”

“Because they’re mean,” said my mother-in-law.  “Mean and evil.”


“They wanted to scare us into doing what they wanted—so they would feel stronger,” I said.  “Like bullies.”

“Did it work?” she asked.

I hesitated again, but no one else spoke.

“They scared us,” I told my daughter, who was conceived in April of 2002.  “But they didn’t stop us.”

Grow up. Work hard. Use your words.

I don’t have much of a post today—the news from Oslo has knocked me for six and it doesn’t seem to matter much right now whether I enjoyed the last Harry Potter movie or not.Tell me something:  does terrorism seem like the temper tantrums of lazy, cowardly children to anyone else? Because it is lazy to destroy rather than build,  to murder unarmed non-combatants—trapped on an island—because they’re easier targets.

It is cowardly to hide behind explosives and die—or allow one’s followers to die—rather than personally face one’s opponents and argue verbally for change. And it is the temperamental act of a child to point fingers and say, I hit them because they won’t listen and give me my way.

What has terrorism ever accomplished?  What has terrorism ever protected?  What has terrorism ever changed for the better?Grow up.  Work hard.  Use your words. And maybe the next time you visit Oslo, it will be to receive a certain prize  instead of universal condemnation.