Peace and purpose

Overcome Boston Marathon tragedy by creating something good

Perhaps typically, liberal commentator Katrina vanden Heuvel is terrified not so much by attacks on America, but by the prospect that America will overreact to the Boston terror bombing – like after 9-11, she says.

 

This newspaper gives America infinitely more credit than that. And we hardly think the danger here is American reaction to the unprovoked assault on peaceful American civilians.

First of all, we don’t think America did overreact after the poor-man’s Pearl Harbor attack on America in 2001. It was a stark-naked act of war that killed several thousand and lowered a major city’s skyline, an evil aggression perpetrated not by a nation, certainly, but by a multinational organization of bloodlust killers eager and willing to lay waste to us all.

Continued attacks and attempted attacks over the years since 9-11 prove that the danger is still there, that radical Muslims are still at war with us.

That would seem to indicate a decided lack of overreaction.

Rather, we think the greater danger is to underreact to the Boston bombing.

But we don’t mean militarily.

The danger is that Americans will miss the opportunity to make something real, lasting, constructive and meaningful out of the carnage last week.

After we bring the perpetrators to justice; after we’ve shored up security at home and abroad; after we’ve shown the world again what America is made of – then we can set about to strengthen our country and ourselves even more.

Many around the country have already put on their running shoes to make common cause with the runners in Boston. In some cases, they’re running to raise money for the survivors; in other cases, they’re hoping to compete in next year’s race as a gesture of solidarity.

Either way, they’ll be feeding the need to do something – and getting more fit in the process, which is an end in itself.

But there are a plethora of things we can do to make something good come out of this unspeakable horror. Here are just a few suggestions:

• Set out to give of yourself – to your neighbors, community or nation. Find a cause and contribute your time, talent or treasure.

• Jump back into American civic life, which we’ve too often abandoned in past decades. Get involved in a political cause; bone up on local, state and national issues, and attend meetings when you can; or join a civic club, which provides a convenient, fun path to helping humanity.

• Dedicate time and effort to self-improvement. Lose that weight, read that book, take that class, mentor that child, walk away from the violence and filth you’re being fed by the culture. Find a personal development plan template on the web and write one for yourself. Get a life coach, or become one.

There are innumerable ways we can better the country by improving ourselves.

• Work for peace – in your
family, your community and the world.

You hear generalized pleas for peace a lot, but there are very tangible, specific things you can do.

Peace in your own life can be found in daily decisions to transcend yourself and your ego and think of others first. Few domestic quarrels are fought over who can do the most for the other.

When you work to create hope and opportunity, particularly in beleaguered inner cities, you’re working for peace. Consider
urging your house of worship, school, business, civic club or just your friends to join you in tackling some of the problems ailing our communities – from illiteracy to crime to poverty to unwanted and teen pregnancies, to the homeless, to pet overpopulation – the list is endless, and rich with opportunity to make a positive difference.

This is, in our view, the best way to respond to such things as the Boston bombing. Just decide we’re going to make America all the stronger, and that we’ll overwhelm the bad with good. We’ve cursed the darkness; now let’s light a candle against it.

In this, we cannot overreact.

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