When President Obama arrives in Boston today he will find a city that’s open for business; an investigation that’s well-coordinated and progressing quickly; and a community that is already working together, person to person, to heal its wounds. There is no doubt that Obama will offer words of comfort. They will be welcome, and received in the spirit in which they are given. But the greatest comfort is visible all around. Far from reeling, Boston is firmly on its feet. Far from numb, Boston is openly expressing its grief. Far from dazed, Boston is pursuing the investigation into Monday’s bombings with grim determination.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet,” begins a quote from Helen Keller, but calmness in the face of enormous challenge is an expression of character. In all the hours since the attacks, Bostonians have shown a clear-eyed understanding of what happened, and an almost innate sense of what needs to be done. It would have been understandable if a few choruses of “why us” and “how did it happen here” entered into the public dialogue. But there’s been remarkably little self-pity of any sort.