Boston Marathon Bombings – Everybody Loses

Boston-Marathon-bombing-screenshotDear Readers, I’m writing on a rather discouraging note today.

As you almost certainly know by now, this past Monday, two bombs exploded near the finish line in the latter part of the Boston Marathon.

Three people have been killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and almost two hundred injured, including a number of people who have either had part of their leg blown off or have had to have limbs fully or partially amputated due to injuries from shrapnel.

From what experts have determined so far, it appears the bombs were designed to inflict maximum injury and death.  Many victims’ wounds contained small round metal balls, screws, nails, and so on – the kinds of materials used to maximize injury and death.

It’s too early for us to know who did it or why, but whatever we eventually learn, if it was someone or a group who has a dislike for the United States, they are harming people from many countries when they undertake an act like this. And, they only increase the resistance and force against whatever their cause is.  So, if the perpetrator was seeking to advance some cause, they failed. If they were only seeking to cause harm – they succeeded.  But here’s the irony: the decision to cause harm is usually motivated by an extreme level of anger, frustration, and desperation related to some kind of underlying change the person or persons behind the action wish to see take place. So once again, they are doing no service to anyone – including themselves. As I wrote in the title: everybody loses.

Newton’s 3rd law typically applies in conflicts and disputes: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The problem with these kinds of patterns in human relationships is that it can lead to a never-ending cycle of violence – often, a cycle that only escalates over time. At a minimum, it tends to lead to a never-ending dispute – whether violent or not.

The flaw in our thinking as humans about this way of addressing conflict was summed up very well by Gandhi, who so famously said:

An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.

I am saddened to see yet another incident like this that causes people to live in greater fear. I am saddened to see innocent people suffer and die – especially the 8-year-old boy, whose time on this earth was cut short while he waited in excited anticipation to watch his father complete the most famous marathon in the world.

I leave you with this invitation:

Honour and mourn the harm and death that has been perpetrated.  That is important.  At the same time, remember that this act does not define humanity.  It is a dark and real part of who we are as a species, but it does not define the entirety of who we are. Do not allow this to cause you to lose faith in the human spirit. If you do, then the people who committed this act will have succeeded far beyond their hopes, and more importantly, you will do yourself and all of humanity an injustice, for we are much more than vicious acts of violence causing harm to innocent people. We are also loving, kind, generous, heroic, compassionate, joyful, inspiring, and much, much more.



  1. Jennifer McCarthy says:

    Well said Peter, J

    • Peter says:

      Thank you Jen! It seems this post resonated with a lot of people, since – in addition to your kind comment here – I received a number of emails with kind words. I’m so glad it resonated. Always good to be able to make at least some tiny positive difference when something bad like this happens. Be well.

  2. Tara Bowman says:

    Your words are thoughtful yet powerful and I thank you , well said.

  3. Shuyi says:

    “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” can’t agree more.

    • Peter says:

      Thank you Shuyi. Nice to see you here on my blog. Hope life in Asia is treating you well.

      By the way, in terms of that quote, I believe that the “equal and opposite reaction” is our instinctive reaction. However, I think we can CHOOSE a different response. Instead of just letting the cycle continue with equal (or escalating) and opposite reactions, we can hit “pause”, reflect, think about what our true end goal is, and consider whether a different kind of response might serve us (and everyone) better.

      This, however, takes conscious thought, effort, discipline, maturity, the willingness to change one’s perspective and challenge one’s perceptions and beliefs, and so on. It is not easy, but the reward can be well worth it. For example, if the reward is breaking a long-standing cycle of conflict or violence, it seems worth working for. Nelson Mandela comes to mind as someone who was able to do this on a grand scale – ending Apartheid and transitioning South Africa to a democratically-elected government without a civil war.

      Best wishes, and again, thank you for your comment. Comments like yours and others’ inspire me to keep writing.

  4. First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like
    to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you
    center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to
    writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out
    there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!

    • Peter says:

      Thank you for your compliment – I’m glad you like the blog! As for your question, one thing I sometimes do is sit quietly for a few minutes before writing, thinking about what I really want to say. It helps clarify the message for me. Another thing you could try is writing down the key points you want to make in point-form before you begin.

      Having said this, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with struggling about how to begin. In fact, it’s probably healthy. With time, it will get easier. The last thing I’d say is just really work on being “in the moment”. Imagine yourself talking to your readers, and then the words will probably flow more easily.

      Best wishes.

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