Editorial: Struggling to find the "why"

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 09:07 PM

Nothing justifies the carnage on Boston's Boylston Street on Monday.

No vendetta makes it all right to plant bombs in a crowd of innocent onlookers at a marathon. No political agenda supports an attack that leaves more than 100 people wounded, some losing limbs or suffering brain injuries. No overblown temper tantrum can make a sane person look at a photo of 8-year-old Martin Richard, one of three killed in the attack, and think: "Yes, this had to happen."

In the aftermath, it's only natural for us to wonder who did this and why.

We're confident that investigators will know soon enough who attacked the Boston Marathon crowd. But we're not so sure we'll ever have a solid grasp on the why of it all, except for the simplest possible answer: To inflict terror. That they did it for the satisfaction of seeing people hurt, killed or running for their lives. That they did it to hijack our 24-hour news networks. That they did it just to take pleasure in seeing the results of their mayhem.

So far, we’re happy to report, the 52 fitness-focused runners from Durham and Chapel Hill who ran the marathon appeared to make it through unscathed.

In an article on Tuesday, The Herald-Sun's Harold Gutmann shared that Allie Bigelow, a runner from Durham who finished an hour before the blast, used Twitter to notify the community that runners from the Bull City Track Club were unharmed.

"All safe," she wrote. "All thoroughly traumatized though. So awful."

Cheryl Treworgy, mother of UNC grad and three-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan (the fastest American woman in Monday's race), noted that Monday was Patriots' Day in Boston - a remembrance of the battles that signaled the start of the American Revolutionary War.

"This is a gentle sport," Treworgy told Gutmann. "It's not one that promotes violence by any means, and it really shook up a lot of the runners."

Any effort to put a "why" that makes perfect sense on the Boston bombing is liable to leave us scratching our heads.

Nothing excuses this, or Newtown or the emergency responder ambush attacks in New York and Georgia in recent months.

Nothing explains this, or deadly blasts that are far too common in countries that may seem so far away to us, such as Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.

Little good comes from trying to rationalize acts of madness.

The more important question is: What next?

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