The Lost Legs And Lessons Of Boston

There are reports of Marathon runners who lost their legs in the terror attack. In addition there are reports of the lessons we can learn. The biggest is that we need to accept the reality the rest of the world has — we remain a terrorist target, for civilian terror is the weapon of the weak against the military power of the strong. Second, America’s first responders — police, firefighters and medical teams — remain among our most authentic heroes.

But there’s a third and even larger lesson that shouldn’t get lost — the random world in which we live.

When you woke up this morning you had some plans for today, right? Everyone plans, for everyone expects to be here to live out those plans. The poets tell us life is a gift, yet lets face it, most of us take our life for granted. We don’t take much time fathoming how and why we got here, but we certainly spend a lot of time thinking about what we are going to do with it next.


Until the ineffable randomness of existence comes crashing down around us. Like the million-in-one chance you will be at just the right place on just the right day when a bomb explodes in Boston. Or a pair of Towers collapses in New York. Or a fire breaks out in a downtown store in Chicago. Or a plane explodes on the runway in Los Angeles. Or, for that matter, a sudden whip of wind breaks off a tree limb just as you walk under it.

These are each examples of the law-of-the-random. A law that is totally lawless. A fact of life and death which hovers over us from the day we are born to the day we die. It has a great many “authors” and an endless number of “interpreters,” but as of this day no one I know has ever been able to predict the when, where, how and why of their own death.

Just as well, for living with that knowledge would be living in a relentless state of terror. So when the media call the Boston bombs an act of terror, be advised that it is not so much the terror of terrorists but rather the terror of randomness. A lifelong terror that is tamed best by admitting it, then moving on as if you never had to. After all, I’m guess there are more random acts of kindness waiting for us than broken tree limbs….

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