April 17, 2013

Martin Richard, 8. He was the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Like most journalists/former journalists, I have a pretty thick skin. (You wouldn't believe some of the tasteless jokes that come out of a newsroom after a major tragedy. It's how you keep your emotional distance. You have to, to stay functional.) But when I saw this picture yesterday morning, I just broke down. And then I went out to lunch with a friend, because I needed to get away from the overwhelming assault of terror pornography, streaming constantly from the teevee and across my computer.

I love kids. I despise bullies. And who's a bigger bully than some asshole with a bomb? Whatever stupid, immature, immoral geopolitical rationalization the perpetrator of this violence had, it has all the significance of a speck of dust. Angry people looking to blow things up will always find a reason. We won't let this asshole bully us into a cowering, frightened huddle. Not again.

Just look at this little boy's sweet, open, hopeful face. My God, just look at him, and the sign he made. "No more hurting people. Peace." And those little hearts on each side. Think about his loving family. Go out into the sunshine. Feed your soul today. Don't get caught up in the fear, or even the righteous anger. Make peace, in yourself and with the people you meet today.

Because hate, as we've seen this week, has a powerful ripple effect.

Third grader Martin Richard died Monday waiting for family friends to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. His mother and 6-year-old sister were injured severely.

Lucia Brawley, a friend of Martin's former teacher, posted a photo on Facebook of the 8-year-old holding a sign with an important -- and now haunting -- message. A message that should be shared, and heard, far and wide.

Brawley wrote, in part, "His message resonates powerfully today. My prayer is that we all live by Martin's words, paying tribute to his too-brief, but immeasurably valuable life by following his example."

The picture was taken last year when Martin was in Rachel Moo's second grade class at the Neighborhood House Charter School. "Her whole life was about peace," and she taught that message to her students by participating in marches and assigning art projects, Brawley told HuffPost over the phone. Moo attended the Boston Marathon Monday and then went home to Worcester covered in debris only to learn that one of her students had been killed.

There are no words. Except Martin's.

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