On a good day for running, with the race over for some and others still in it, Martin Richard runs to hug his victorious father at the finish line. No, his dad didn't finish first, but the little guy knows that everybody who finishes a marathon is a winner.
His mom is snapping pictures. His baby sister is with her. He is so proud of his dad, who has just run more than 26 miles. 26 miles! Martin is eight years old. Maybe he will run a marathon, too, when he grows up.
But he won't. He won't even make it to nine. Someone who never met him or his parents or his little sister has stolen his life away from him and from them. And from us. Martin's mom is terribly injured, too. His baby sister has lost one of her legs. Trembling with fatigue from the race, Bill Richard got about three seconds of pure joy before this became the worst day of his life.
People come from all over the world to run this race. They come by the thousands. It's a genial affair, a great festival of mutual admiration, preceded by a famous pasta supper the night before for runners and volunteers: lean marathoners tucking into great plates of penne and lasagna -- 800 pounds of each are prepared, along with 400 gallons of sauce, 600 pounds of meatballs and 200 pounds of mozzarella.
I don't know who did this or, why, but whoever it was thinks he's accomplished something good for his cause. Name me a political cause that will be furthered by the sacrifice of this little boy. Let alone all the injured, the others who died. Name me a cause that violence has aided. Name me just one. Because I'm not coming up with
I do know one thing: when violence and death visited the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, it seemed to some of us that the games could not go on. But they did go on, and they continue still: the world pauses appreciatively to watch the best of the best compete, fair and square. That terrorist attack accomplished nothing for the Palestinian cause but to engender suspicion of it, distracting attention from its legitimate longing for justice. When Timothy McVeigh reduced the Murrah Federal Building to rubble, taking 168 men, women and children with it, he did not succeed in rallying the rest of us to his cause, as he seems to have thought he would. We recoiled from him. The 9/11 attacks did nothing to engender world support for radical Islamism or anti-Americanism, although the two wars in which we have engaged since then have: the expectation that they would make the world "safer" was pure fantasy. They have further endangered all of us, at the cost of a quarter million human lives.
You, who set those bombs along Boyleston Street, whoever you are, listen up: I don't know what your cause is, but your violence isn't going to win it. It will get you exactly the opposite of whatever it is you want.