Healing Words from a 15-Year-Old

By Paul Lombino

Like others, the Boston Marathon bombing left me confused and angry.

Blur of Runners Competing in MarathonThis Wednesday [April 24], WBUR was on hand to speak to the first visitors to Boylston Street ─ Boston’s ground zero ─ since the two deadly blasts shook the Bay State’s collective psyche nine days earlier.

If you click the link above, you’ll hear the resigned sentiment of a flight attendant who rode his bike from Somerville, Mass., my adopted town, to visit the site in hopes of easing stirred-up 9/11 memories of friends lost aboard a plane that struck one of NYC’s twin towers. Asked if he felt better now that he was present at the crime scene, he replied this way:

“Not really. You know, I don’t think doing anything like this is going to change what happened for me. It’s going to change the world we live in, but I don’t think it’s going to make me feel better or feel worse. It is what it is.”

It is what it is. 

Maybe he’s right. Maybe this is part of the new norm: Pointless violence with no redeeming objective. It’s a hard concept to swallow.

In the wake of this most recent heinous act that has struck at the core of how we view ourselves as freedom-loving Americans, it may be helpful to revisit the past for the tender perspective of a then-15-year-old girl who ─ like those being eulogized this week ─ never got a chance to reach full potential.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

Those words, of course, were inscribed by Anne Frank in her secret diary dated July 15, 1944, while hiding from Nazi occupiers in Holland. In March 1945, young Anne, along with her sister, would succumb to typhus in Bergen-Belsen a month before British troops liberated the German concentration camp.

I’m simply not ready to accept “it is what it is.” Not yet, anyway. I know it sounds corny, but for the next month I’m going to tape to my computer screen the words “In spite of everything … people are truly good at heart.”

The structure of Frank’s sentence is simple, but the meaning has taken on a complexity I’m not sure I fully understand at this time. Still, I find her ideal about humanity soothing. Maybe that alone will ease the anger.

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4 Comments

Filed under Boston Marathon

4 responses to “Healing Words from a 15-Year-Old

  1. Paul — Your column is eloquent and deeply touching. Well done. As Abraham Lincoln once said, we must continue appealing to “the better angels of our nature.”

  2. Donna Menschel

    Fantastic article…very moving, very touching, very true!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Paige Webster

    Thanks for sharing, Paul. I wondered how the Boston tragedy might have affected you and your family, and Anne Frank’s words are an inspiration–and reminder.

  4. thank you Paul, for this. Its such a simple message isn’t it? Despite evil in our midst, humans are basically kind and good. Its just that evil is so powerful!

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