No More Hurting People

Patriots’ Day is a Massachusetts state holiday, celebrated on the third Monday in April, commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord [1], the first battles of the American Revolution. [2] It is on that day that the Boston Marathon is held every year. [3]

This year, as we know, the celebration turned to mourning. With thousands of runners still on the course, two bombs exploded near the finish line, 20 seconds apart. [4] 282 people were injured [5]. Of those, 14 people lost legs. [6] Two of that number lost both legs.

Three people were killed. One was Krystle Campbell, a young woman of 29, who had recently moved to Boston to help her grandmother through an illness. [7] Another was Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University, a Chinese national, and the only child of her parents. [8] And there was Martin Richard, an 8-year-old boy, a boy who almost a year ago wrote on a sign the words, “No more hurting people.” [9]

Just a few days prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, eleven children were killed in a NATO airstrike in Eastern Afghanistan. [10] A few days prior to that, a NATO airstrike resulted in the deaths of eight Afghan civilians, consisting of five men, two women, and a child. [11] 

There is a lot of pain being felt in the United States. There is a lot of pain being felt in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the killing of civilians considered as “collateral damage” [12] is not the moral equivalent of the deliberate targeting of civilians. But the resulting deaths are no less final, and the grief felt by the families of the victims is no less intense.

Good can be brought out of evil; such is known to people of faith. Let, then, this good come out of the evil that was the Boston Marathon bombing: let us remember the pain of the victims, the pain of the families of those who lost their lives, and the pain felt by our nation. Let us remember what it feels like.

Then let us remember that the pain felt by others half a world away is no less acute and bitter. Let us remember that when our politicians once again raise the war cry. Let us remember that the casualties, including the inevitable civilian casualties, will be, first and foremost, human suffering, devoid of political content. Let us remember our pain, and thereby acquire a strong reluctance to bring such pain to others.

Only in this way can the pain we feel at this time become redemptive. Only in this way can we realize the vision of 8-year-old Martin Richard: “No more hurting people.”

Jack Quirk

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