The Boston Marathon has long required resilience and fortitude by those who run it.  And now those same qualities are being summoned by the Boston populace – and caring people everywhere – to deal with the anguish and grief of the senseless, tragic acts committed against event spectators.

Little is currently known about the two explosions near the event’s finish line on Monday.  Explosives were planted in trash containers and then detonated.  Shrapnel compounded bystander injuries.  The origin of the bombs has not been determined.  The motive is not known.

However the human toll was immediate and visible – the broken bodies, the anguished faces, the multiple deaths including an eight year old – as was the compassionate care offered by first responders.

What provokes such cruelty against random people in Boston, or for that matter, innocent victims anywhere?   It’s a question that many of us last seriously asked ourselves over a decade ago, after September 11th.

Yet organizations like HI-USA have been working determinedly to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples and cultures and help defuse the misconceptions and prejudices that can lead to inexplicable acts, both small and large.  It’s our mission, and in these times, it is especially important.

In Boston, one answer to yesterday’s nightmare can be found about one mile away from the Marathon finish line – at the new Boston hostel at 21 Stuart Street opened in 2012 by HI-USA with local volunteer leadership.  The hostel is a place that encourages conversation and friendship among those whose paths might not otherwise meet.  It is a building designed for a noble purpose with staff who bring our mission to life every day.  The kindness and empathy of our staff welcomed those who walked through the hostel’s doors after the Boston tragedy, just as our staff delivered in New York City during Superstorm Sandy and in Washington and NYC after September 11th.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the Boston tragedy.  And in embracing resilience and fortitude, and kindness and empathy, the people of Boston are showing us all an inspiring way forward.

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