Granted, the only thing that's certain is that nobody is certain. Take one of the many, many sympathy notes out there, that of Taylor Swift:
"Sending all of my love to Boston after a day of sadness and confusion and not knowing what to say. I just don't understand."
Not understanding is perfectly okay. I don't. You don't. Not even the authorities understand right now. Many people never will. As of now, only one person on Earth is sure to understand: the attacker that planted the explosives. The only other people that might understand are those whose minds are twisted in the exact same way as the attacker. As time goes on, we'll try to figure out why this happened; we'll hunt the person down and we'll get answers. But many will never be able to see things from the angle necessary to understand, and many more will simply refuse to do so.
One thing that is quickly becoming understood is that this is being classified as an act of terror. That's probably the right place to put it from a legal standpoint. But I would hesitate to call this 'terrorism' and the attacker a 'terrorist' even if those are the most accurate words. Terrorism carries a sick glory to it, and terrorists get their names remembered much more easily than others who have done wrong. What word you use to describe the person is up to you. Attacker. Criminal. 'That Idiot'. Anything but 'terrorist', and especially anything but their actual name. Save the names for the victims (so far two of the three dead have been identified, 8-year-old Martin Richard and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell) (UPDATE: the third is 23-year-old Lu Lingzi), and the people that did whatever they could to keep the inhumanity to a minimum. The first responders. The runners who became impromptu first responders. The runners who, after 26 miles, kept on running right to the hospital to donate blood. Joe Andruzzi, a former NFL offensive lineman shown here carrying a woman to safety. Carlos Arredondo, photographed helping one of the victims to safety while holding a tourniquet around his leg, and probably the single man who will be the unofficial 'face' of everyone that helped that day along with Andruzzi.
We do want the attacker's name. As I type this, a $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to arrest and conviction. But that's the only reason we should want the name. After that, it should be forgotten.
And then those of us who can must carry on. Acts such as this are designed to make you too afraid of horrific injury or death to be able to go enjoy life as you know it. This particular act was carried out at possibly the most joyous location on the single most joyous day on Boston's social calendar: Patriots' Day, the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. If one cannot find joy there, they cannot find joy in Boston at all. That above all else is what we must hang on to. Our lives cannot be allowed to collapse into a state of perpetual fear of what might happen anywhere we choose to seek joy.
The London Marathon is coming up this Sunday. The Red Sox return from a three-game series in Cleveland to face the Royals on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Massachusetts Red Cross could use donations, if you're so inclined.