At separate times and for different reasons, a few friends suggested today that I am a man of words who uses them well. I like to think those lovely compliments are true most of the time, but I find myself at a loss for words right now as I watch the news and reflect on the day’s events at the Boston Marathon. Lots of words—among them fear, terror, carnage, anguish, prayer, pain, grief, worry, relief, and sadness—come to mind as buzzwords to describe the horrific attack (more buzzwords), but something feels empty about them all.
Maybe it’s because none of those words characterize anything truly essential. Images of the attack and its aftermath speak for themselves, and speak louder. They tell us that those buzzwords are at least part of the reason for this brutality. Nevertheless, the buzzwords provide no deeper reason for the madness, no analysis of its implications, and no clue about who caused it.
On the other hand, maybe it’s because another prominent buzzword comes to mind: pity. I feel terribly sorry for the victims and families whose day of personal triumph turned into a life changing day of tragedy. But how much comfort can I provide with my words? What can I say—what can any of us say that wholly expresses the distress we feel about this event?
Plenty of words will be said and written about Boston in the days and weeks to come, but I wonder if any of them will be adequate for an event like this.