“Facilis descensus Averno;
Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.”
—Virgil, The Aeneid
“It is easy to descend into the infernal regions;
Night and day the doors of Hell are open;
But to retrace your path, return to the surface and airy regions,
That is the task! That is the difficulty.”
As I write this, I am cycling high in the Trinity Peaks wilderness of Northern California. Not the place to be if you want to keep close tabs on family and friends in Boston, still shocked and recovering from bombs at last week’s marathon. The peace here couldn’t be further from martial law in the streets of America’s premier colonial city.
Yet I know my fellow citizens well. Unlike countries such as Syria, Pakistan, India and Iran, or cities like Beirut, Baghdad, Kabul or Lahore, Boston’s descent into the Hell of terrorism and fear will be a brief one. There will be no waves of retaliation, no preachers screaming from steeples and pulpits for vengeance in one God’s name.
Quite the opposite. Beantown residents will pause, remember and rebuild. They will retrace their steps and return to the commercial and cultural vibrancy that defines the very soul of their community. Boston’s spring will make the Prague spring pale in comparison. America was not where democracy was born; it is where it thrives and endures.
The war against terrorism is a marathon, not a sprint. How appropriate that one of the greatest victories in that war was a consequence of eternal vigilance by citizens and technology in Boston.
Virgil would be proud.
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