A month ago, two brothers detonated bombs at the finish of the Boston Marathon. The ensuing manhunt left our nation mesmerized. We watched as the police sifted through massive amounts of data, constructed a plan, released photos to the public, and within a week, captured the culprits.
I have a few thoughts on this. Let’s begin with me as a runner. The best way to describe the Boston Marathon is it’s the marathoner’s marathon. It was founded almost 120 years ago, and is the place our understanding of the marathon comes from. For perspective, most large marathons, including New York, Chicago, Twin Cities, and Grandmas in Duluth, are between 30 and 40 years old.
Boston also has strict qualifications. For a male under the age of 35, the requirement is under 3:05, which is running just under 9 mph for just over three hours.
Because of the history and qualification standards, the Boston Marathon is a sacred place for runners. For this reason, it was especially devastating for so many who have worked years, if not decades, to qualify. It put a stain on an event that symbolizes the greatest in human perseverance.
You can be assured, however, that this is not the end of the Boston Marathon. Next year, the race will fill to capacity in even less time than it did this year. Twenty-seven-thousand or more runners will toe the start, not just to say they ran the Boston Marathon, but to announce to the world that nothing can extinguish the spirit of human competitiveness.
I also have some thoughts as a pastor. Over the past month, I’ve heard a lot of anger toward the two brothers. People cry for justice for those coward brothers. “Let them hang in the streets” seems to be a popular opinion.
There are two problems with this. First, it is recognition they are after. Anyone who is willing to bomb a marathon, shoot up an elementary school, or kill a group of moviegoers, probably isn’t too afraid of being strung up. The attention is actually something they want. These people crave seeing their own faces on CNBC or Fox News.
A better option would be to capture them, and not release their names. Let people know that when you commit a crime like this, history will not remember you in fact, you will exist in the same obscurity you always have. This won’t happen as long as we have curiosity for these things, and we will always have that.
Second, violence begets violence. This is a story as old as Cain and Abel. The answer to peace is rarely war. Now, there are times when violence is necessary and I am not qualified to make the distinction, but if we look at the great peacemakers, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, we see the best way to diffuse violence is through peace.
This is nothing new, however. On the cross, Jesus gave up His power so that we could be forgiven. Imagine that, power through sacrifice.
Of course I know this doesn’t always work, but these are my thoughts as a pastor and runner.