A great paradox of terrorism is that an act of terrible evil can bring forth so many acts of good. Since Monday’s awful explosions on Boylston Street, Boston has been a city of heroes: the magnificent first responders, the miracle-working medical personnel, and the many ordinary people who have given so freely of their time, money, and blood. Yet to be effective, this flood of charity needs to flow in the right direction, and at this early date, we don’t know where money will be most needed. For this reason, Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino have established “The One Fund Boston,” which they hope will be able to draw on the charitable impulses of today’s donors in the future, when the best uses of these funds become apparent.
The evil of 9/11 also brought forth massive generosity; $2.8 billion was given to related charities. Hurricane Katrina generated an even larger $5.3 billion charitable surge. But the results of all that giving were uneven. The proliferation of different funds and causes meant that while many victims received ample aid, some first responders received far too little.