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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 15

It's supposed to be a joyous week, this unofficial start of spring when we in New England can say with some confidence that winter is finally over, when the people of Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots' Day and the beginning of our country's independence, when the schoolkids have a week off. This year the third Monday in April also coincided with Tax Day and I never have felt so grateful, so willing to support our government.

The response to the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon has been overwhelming: first-responders of all kinds running towards the explosions; rides, food, shelter from citizens; dedication, security, compassion from our elected officials and our police and fire guardians. Whenever we think we live in a barbaric society, public response saves us. We live in a civilized society too.

Maybe residents of Newton feel this particularly strongly. A good chunk of the marathon's route goes through our city, including Heartbreak Hill, and few of us live more than a couple of miles away from the Hill's agonies and triumphs, few of us have never see them in person. We are also blessed with the ability to pay our taxes (indeed, we just voted to raise them for school and road repair). We are privileged in most senses of the word. Paying taxes to help ensure a society of civility is one of those privileges.

Yet the desire yesterday, even in this safe place, was to escape these cities where crowds of people attract crazies. Disasters in a rural place are mostly natural, and making a violent political or religious statement on the shore of the ocean or the middle of the wilderness is ludicrous, for only God will see you. But that desire to escape is a feeble response, purely a gut reaction, and it fades quickly. We bear responsibility for our collective suffering and need to assist however we can. And that includes the commonweal.

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