It's hard to think about tax policy or cost-of-living calculations for Social Security when death is in the news, when the grim horror of it hangs in the air like the last wisps of afternoon smoke.
The bombs exploded just before the finish line, at mile 26.2 of the Boston Marathon, and everything else seemed to fade away.
"April is the cruelest month," wrote T.S. Eliot, but of course that's not true. Months are a human invention, an arbitrary division of time incapable of emotions or intentions. The next line of Eliot's poem says that April 'breeds lilacs out of the dead ground,' but science tells us that's not true either. Lilacs (Latin, syringa) are native to large parts of the planet from southeastern Europe to central Asia, and are commonly cultivated by people in many countries.
Human beings plant lilacs. And, as trite as it sounds, they do it a lot more often than they plant bombs.
Historians say that live television doesn't bring us together the way it once did. There aren't as many shared cultural moments now that we have pre-recorded entertainment, hundreds of cable channels, and the Internet. A half-century ago our nation shared cultural touchstones like seeing the Beatles or Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show or the watching the conclusion of a long-running TV series like The Fugitive.
Now it seems as if our only common moments are tragic ones, acts of terror like 9/11 or celebrity deaths like Michael Jackson's. Our only moments of national community seem to ring with pain and loss."The dead tree gives no shelter," says T. S. Eliot's poem, "... only shadow."