So I'm stuck with having to write a blog about this traumatic atrocity but for all my writing credentials really having no words to make it better. That's because there are no words to make it better. There are no platitudes or soundbytes which can make any sense of this terrible tragedy, or explain away the evil which is evident in events like this.
However, one of the marathon participants who was there inadvertently gave what I think constitutes the best advice to those of us reeling over the shock of this event. She told of how she had come to the finish line to find it full of carnage and horror, and race officials told her to "Just keep running".
Imagine it for a moment. You have trained for months, even years, towards a goal many people would consider impossible. You have planned and prepared. You have carefully studied the course, worked out your pacing strategy, and put all your mental and physical energies not only into running and running and running however exhausted you might be, but into reaching that final goal of crossing the finish line.
But the finish line is gone. Having just run for at least two hours, you somehow have to keep running. You have to run past the despair, destruction and death. You have to find reserves of energy you didn't know you had and somehow keep going. You have to just keep running to get past it all.
If you have the voice of Dory from Finding Nemo in your head, don't try to silence it. Her catchy little line, "just keep swimming" has been something of a personal mantra to me for some time. It's good advice. Sometimes all you can do is just keep going. Whether you just keep swimming or just keep running, the message is the same. Like those runners we have to keep running. We have to find reserves of energy we didn't know we had and get past the despair and destruction and death.
Why? Because the alternative is to stop. If we stop to dwell on it we become overwhelmed by the horrors of the world. If we stop we lose our personal dignity by playing into the hands of those who wanted us to do just that so that we might be overcome by their power over us. If we stop we forget about all the good there is in the world (many of the people who just kept running ran to the hospital to donate blood) and about our own duty to add to the good and fight the evil. If we stop we let this impact on our families, our loved ones and our lives, often to their detriment.
Naturally we spare time, prayers, thoughts and love for those who are suffering and those who have lost loved ones. Of course we pause to offer them our support and care and to lift them up. But we don't let this beat us. We can't stop and let it destroy us. We don't let it destroy more lives than it already has.
Like the runners who had to just keep running even though they were at the end of the course, we who are struggling with this horror have to find the mental and physical strength to just keep running.