This can pose a much greater threat to our open society than the Soviet Army ever did — if we let it — because this kind of terrorism attacks the essential thing that keeps an open society open: trust. Trust is built into every aspect, every building, every interaction and every marathon in our open society. Terrorists can steal it for a moment or even a while, but we dare not let them fundamentally erode it, and I don’t think we will. When you watch the video of the bombing aftermath, notice how many people you see running toward the blast within seconds to help, even though more bombs easily could have been set to explode there.
Fortunately, we don’t frighten easily anymore. You could feel it in the country on Tuesday morning. We’ve been through 9/11. We probably overreacted then, but never again. We tracked down Osama bin Laden with police and intelligence work, and we’ll do the same in this case.
But meanwhile, even in this age of terrorism, let’s keep heeding the advice of an advertisement that you could see hanging in a Boylston Street window in a picture taken after the blast. The picture showed a marathoner sifting through unclaimed runners’ bags left behind after the explosion. Behind him, in the window, the ad poster says: “Your home should be a place to rest easy.”
Only we can take that away from ourselves — not some terrorist with one despicable spasm of madness. So hug your kids tonight, but also encourage them to start training for the next marathon tomorrow. Now that I think of it, maybe we should make this one longer — from Boston to the site of the World Trade Center to the Pentagon — to remind ourselves and anyone else who needs reminding: This is our house. We intend to relax here. And we are not afraid.