Is “evil” the right word for what happened this week in Boston?

Being a member of the Harvard Community I received the following email communication addressed to all the members from the President of Harvard University:

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

We are deeply grateful to law enforcement officials from Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown and from across the state and nation for their apprehension last evening of the surviving suspect in the marathon bombing. Yesterday was a harrowing day in a week of tragedy, suffering, and uncertainty—as well as courage and solidarity. After Monday’s unthinkable violence and loss, we mourned the victims and wondered how such evil could intrude into our beloved city and community. Friday we found its apparent origins terribly close to home….        Drew Faust


Perhaps having a name like “Faust” the word evil was well chosen, for the legendary  personality, Faustus, did know evil, did make his own pact with the devil.

But I would ask, as have countless others on similar occasions before now and before me, is it “evil” that has revealed its presence during the past week? Or is it once again ignorance, an ignorance of right and wrong, that which we all share even with the Boston Marathon bombers, although thankfully in lesser, much lesser amounts.

It is, after all, still our hope that we can work together to combat ignorance, but versus evil, what can we do, except to bear it, to suffer as during the past week, while asking ourselves how could this terrible presence be right here among us, or as Drew Faust would say, have “its apparent origins terribly close to home.”

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