Like many of my countrymen I am shocked and saddened by the images and stories coming out of Boston the past few hours. I am saddened even more to read just now of the current popular theory that the horrific act was perpetrated by homegrown domestic radicals inspired by the acts terrorism committed against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course this is just a theory, and many more will surely come forward these next perilous hours until a suspect is identified. These explosive devices today, while crude and *god forbid* handmade in the very city they were detonated in by still unknown hands, represent a much darker presence than simple explosions that have cut down happy and people on a beautiful spring day in Boston. It is Fear.
Once again our nation has been visited by the evil of terrorism. And now the minds that are paid to think of such things point to a domestic offender, citing the crude nature of the devices and the puzzling choice of target. And this fear seeps into our very soul. Since 9/11 we have reimagined the terrorist as a radical Muslim clothed in robes and shouting Allah Akbar as they charged from the anonymous sands of 3rd world obscurity against the vast fortress walls of America. As frightening as this reality we have created is, it also soothes us to a degree. We are Americans. A foreign army hasn’t occupied our soil in 200 years. And though we read of Pearl Harbor in school, and we remember the horrors of that fateful autumn morning 12 years ago, we are still Americans united against the threat of terrorism rearing its ugly head and striking out at our cities. United. Together. So when a devastating blow like today occurs, and fingers begin pointing towards a threat much closer to home, that fear is multiplied a thousand times over. One among us may have orchestrated this deed, perhaps even a native son or daughter of Boston. And that terrifies us to a primal level. I am old enough to remember the Oklahoma City bombing. I came home from school and watched the images of death, and smoke, and fire on TV, very similar to the images now on every TV screen in America. And when Timothy McVeigh was caught, I was confused and shocked. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. The bad guys were supposed to be far away. We are the good guys. Even at 12 years old, this thought sat in my brain for months, and still haunts me to this day. Just as the events of today will haunt me and a whole new generation of Americans new to domestic terrorism.
The Fear is out there tonight, ladies and gentlemen. I sit now on my front porch at 2 am smoking a cigar writing this no more than 48 miles from the site of today’s tragedy, and the air is soaked with fear. Our sense of security, already fragile after the deadly past year we have endured with shootings at a school and a movie theater, has been shattered. We aren’t safe anywhere, it would seem. Despite a decade long war on terror to free Americans from the threat of that bomb strapped mujahedeen, the greatest fear we can imagine is being thrust into our souls by fellow Americans lashing out at us in our most vulnerable of places. A school. A movie theater. A marathon. Places where we should be safe, and we are finding out painfully how very unsafe we are and always will be. Terrorism is the great hydra of our time, for every 30 heads we sever, 100 will grow in their place, ready to rain havoc and carnage upon a civilian populace trying simply to live in these dark times.
But we are Americans. And we have never let our fear define us.
I am not speaking of our government, but of our people. These atrocities this past year have not been crimes against a government, but against a people. And for all our flaws and humanity, Americans, true Americans of every creed, color, or religion will not let fear control us. For every one wounded that fell today in Boston, 50 responders put their lives on the line and rushed to the aid of their fellow man. They didn’t know whether or not there were secondary devices still waiting to detonate, a common and cowardly tactic I saw firsthand in Iraq as a young medic attached to a Marine infantry unit. They rushed to the sides of bleeding strangers and refused to let the Fear control them. For the good of all.
I leave you on with this plea: Turn off the television. Too often after a national tragedy do we remain transfixed to the screen for hours and days on end, letting the media of the left and the right feed our fear. Do not allow this. Turn off the TV. Put down your smartphone or tablet. You can check the news later as more theories develop and proof is obtained. Hug your children if you haven’t done so yet today. Go outside today and do something you have never done. Try skydiving, or do drugs, or buy that new TV you had an eye on. Go do something. Go hike, go to a bar, go get a tattoo or visit a relative in the nursing home. Go outside and live. For as long as we refuse to allow The Fear control us, we win. And it doesn’t matter if the monster was a foreign dictator or your next-door neighbor. In 3 hours it will be dawn here on the Eastern Seaboard, 3 beautiful innocent souls who saw it yesterday will not wake to see it today, and that is the greatest crime against humanity. Go live. You have absolutely no idea when your last breath will be just that: Your Last. Make them count folks.