This time in Boston. Two bombs. Three people dead. Two more undetonated bombs destroyed. At least a hundred people injured. Scores more probably to come. And a nation finding itself, once more, grieving.
This is a different world than the one I grew up in. Back then, the violence and carnage was always far away, overseas (except, of course, for the civil rights movement, and the ugly and ferocious backlash against those who were fighting for their rights on our own soil.)
We thought that by living on a continent buttressed by two oceans and two friendly neighbors we would be protected forever. We thought that the stirring words of our forefathers – enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution – proclaiming ours a shining democracy, one in which all would be equal under the law, would shield us from the horror of chaotic, despotic governments, of the hate and ignominy of the world outside our borders.
We were wrong.
For over a decade, we have lived with the now-deeply-embedded muscle memory of fear. Fear that there are forces out there that hate us, that are beyond our scope of protection. Fear that we will perhaps someday be the target of something so huge, so protracted, that Armageddon will ensue.
So we keep emergency evacuation kits near our front doors. We know the best routes out of our towns. We have plans solidified as to where to meet our family members if an attack shuts down the normal workings of our city.
And yet. We can’t live our daily lives in fear. So we try to forget. We block out the indelible image of the smoke of the towers. We forget the horror of 26 young lives gunned down in Connecticut and the work of the first responders who had to carry little bodies out of kindergarten classrooms. We forget the DC sniper, the Oklahoma City bombing, the first attack on the World Trade Center.
We forget until we remember, with our hearts and our sinew and our cores, when the Boston Marathon, once a joy-filled event that showered the entire city with happiness and fun, becomes another in a litany of events and days to remember.
My children are now old enough that when I got home from work on Monday evening I asked them if they had heard. They had. They seemed nonplussed, the teens both going about their daily business. But I know that there’s a whiff of fear in their minds – and the lingering question, “could it happen here again?”
We now know that it could. We are no longer protected. We are despised by many in this world, this marvelous country built on democracy and rights and equality. We are despised for our openness, our ability to absorb the new immigrant, generation after generation. We are despised because we choose hope, and peace, and acceptance, and love.
The Bangles iconic '80s song comes to mind. Just another manic Monday. Wish it was Sunday. Cause that’s my fun day. My I-don’t-wanna-run-day.
My Sunday is over, though I wish it was still here. Today, it’s Monday. And it’s another in an amassing series of days that have changed the destiny of our country forever.