BOSTON (CBS) – But for a single step. Twenty-four inches in either direction.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in April and all that separated the doorway between this life and the next was an innocuous, olive green mailbox. A step either to the left or right and some really important stuff changed. Death ruined a sweet party with no one having the chance to merely step to safety. No reason, but plenty of unfairness and hurt.
We are now two weeks into living the Boston terror attacks either first hand or through the barrage of local and national media coverage. Lives and the way people live them were changed inexorably. The bomb blasts froze space and time, the killer sociopaths not caring about victims or how many would die.
Business stopped, blood flowed, and evil put some temporary points on the board. The most horrible and hard fought of points.
A sweet eight-year-old boy took what was his most fateful step without a care in this world, thinking only of walking a few yards from his secure spot into the street to high-five and hug his dad who was nearing the end of his twenty-six mile run.
Serious questions about security, personal freedoms, religious fanaticism and political correctness abound with no direct or easy answers. But there is something we can all agree on. Life involves a delicate, complex, synergistic series of random steps taken by us, by those who would do us harm, and most critically by those who love and care for us, even those whom we do not know.
The steps of the first responders and ordinary citizens rushing into the blast sites to apply tourniquets, evacuate victims and get them to hospitals opened a path through the darkness. Steps taken by law enforcement to capture the killers and keep the community safe, the tireless work of doctors and nurses using their skills and determination to save so many, the comfort of clergy, counselors and regular folks from all corners offering prayer, financial help and friendship—all steps that illustrate the essence of goodness that will always triumph over cruelty.
So that’s my takeaway. We all advance thousands of steps, most of them robotically as we go about our daily routine. No one knows where an innocent left or right turn will lead us. What we do know, and it was so evident in the wake of the marathon attacks, is that with the conscious desire to help others in need and the extension of kindness, good things result and those results multiply.
But for a single step our lives may change in an instant. For the future, I pray that these steps—yours, mine and those of others—lead us in the only way that makes sense…in the right direction.