I was in Starbucks when I received a text from my husband to check the news.  Needless to say, seeing the headline, “2 Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line” (or something to that effect), was the end of my homework productivity.

There is a lot of speculation happening right now.  We want answers.  We want someone to blame.  We want a reason, a motivation, so that our minds can somehow make sense of it all.

The truth is, even if we knew who planted the bombs (IEDs, like our soldiers face in Iraq) and why, we still would not be able to make sense of it.

The easy answer is that whomever did this, planned this, implemented this – that that person or group is Evil.  I have a hard time with the concept of evil.  My belief structure and personal theology really don’t allow for the idea of evil.  My belief structure allows for the concept of unwise or unskillful action.  Each time we do something negative, it is easier to do it the next time.  Thus we form neural pathways that reinforce that behavior, which make it easier and easier to do negative things, and the negative things can become more negative as we go.  Someone that others would view as Evil, I would say has probably been damaged in some way (haven’t we all?) and has formed the neural pathways of negative behavior, anti-social or violent behavior.  For some reason, unknown to me, that behavior has been reinforced in that person.  [The one amendment I’ll make to this is that I do think it’s possible for a rare someone to be born socio-pathic.  I don’t know how that fits in to my belief structure, but I think it’s possible.]

So, without the concept of Evil – with the belief that every person is a beloved child of the Divine who is loved and beautiful and Good, though they might have forgotten it – how can we (I) make sense of this?

Talking about “learning lessons” is always sticky.  Let me use myself as an example:  I have learned and grown a huge amount because of having CF, being as sick as I was, and getting my double-lung transplant.  I have learned on an intellectual level (I could probably pass a basic nursing test); I have learned on an emotional and spiritual level.   I think there are many many lessons that people can learn by being physically ill, especially through chronic illness.  That said, that does not mean that I would EVER wish physical illness on anyone.

My belief is that our souls (yes, I’m a Buddhist who believes in the soul, ever-changing as it might be – go figure) are here to learn.  My belief is that the crap that happens in our lives is designed specifically and intentionally to help us learn.  With every experience – good or bad – our souls are learning.  If we don’t “get the answer” the first time the lesson comes along, the same lesson will come back another time and another time, in different forms, until we do “get it.”   [I’ve heard this is a Hindu concept, but it’s one that I’ve held since long before I knew anything about Hinduism.]  I have no idea what lessons can be learned from the horrible tragedy of the explosions at the Finish Line.   I am sure, however, that there are many lessons – on the personal level, and on the societal level.

We, as a society, are learning how to respond to mass violence – terrorism – in our city.   We, personally, are learning how our emotions react.  Do we immediately jump to conclusions?  Do we hug our families a little longer?  Do we judge more harshly those that look different from us?   Do we smile more freely or open our homes to strangers?   For those that were present, that perhaps are still in the hospital – or those that lost loved ones completely yesterday – do you live in fear?  Do you stop running or stop supporting your family members who run?  Of course you must grieve, but over the long term (lessons sometimes take a long time) do you learn to live with one leg – or no legs?  Do you make an effort to open yourself to joy, even while holding the pain?

The sun is shining.  Spring is coming.  We can hold the violence from yesterday without  becoming violent in our hearts, words or actions.

So let it be.