I recently took a trip to New Orleans, a city that has certainly had its share of misfortune, destruction and despair. Nearly eight years ago, Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, left a death toll in the thousands, and more than a million people homeless. Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 9.16.08 AMBut as I ate my way through the French Quarter, toured the lovely Garden District and rode the crowded streetcar down St. Charles Avenue, there was little or no evidence of Mother Nature’s wrath. In fact, the city was very much alive, showing its soul and stamina and resilience. With their welcoming ways and winning smiles, the people of New Orleans seemed to be saying, “Thank you for coming and for noticing our strength, resolve and courage. Let the good times roll!”
This remarkable recovery brought to mind another great city – Boston – where terror and chaos and mayhem had recently struck. How could this happen? Why would anybody do this? But once again, many heroes emerged: the uninjured runners and spectators, emergency workers, military personnel and other courageous people who ran toward danger to help strangers in need. Fear and suffering were overcome by bravery and compassion. And once again, the indomitable spirit of the American people could not be broken. When a crisis hits us, our nation will rally. That’s because, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We can only speculate as to the motives of the two young men who committed this monstrous act. But the lesson we learn, over and over, is that we get through crises and catastrophes together, through sorrow and anger, rehabilitation and recovery because when we work together, we accomplish amazing things.