Horror in Boston: It's hard to hide in a world riven with hatred

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Pittsburghers who feel far removed from the kind of cunning and violence that claimed innocent people Monday are deluding themselves. A world pockmarked with hatred gets smaller by the day, and senseless bloodshed can happen anywhere.

In Boston, treacherous harm was carefully planned for Patriots' Day, at a beloved, joyous and deeply American event. The nation's hope is that the authorities will find the person or persons who killed three people and injured more than 170 others in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Why does someone do something like this? Why should a child die -- and parents lose a child -- for some fanaticism? What sort of world has this become?

It is hard to get past these questions. On a human level, it is impossible to fathom.

In terms of police work and counterterrorism this is the sobering truth: Not every deranged person or extremist group can be stopped. America's local police forces and national intelligence apparatus have done an amazing job of keeping the nation safe over the past dozen years, preventing hundreds of similar assaults since 9/11. But there is no way to foresee every possibility or to forestall every possible attack.

Is it too soon, is it precise, to call the outrage in Boston terrorism? Setting off bombs and leaving people without limbs is surely terrorism. The gun violence that has invaded every part of our lives, including our children's schools, is terrorism.

A healthy and sane society must look for every possible way to prevent such acts. Otherwise, we live in fear as a people.

Whether the Boston bombing was political terrorism and who perpetrated the vile act are yet to be known. What we need to do is to keep our heads and not assume we know who did this and why.

We hope the police, the FBI and the national security apparatus will do the same: Work efficiently but carefully, and do not rush to judgment. After the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, under similar circumstances, police were sure they had the right guy when they had the wrong guy.

More hatred and injustice are not the antidote to terror. More vigilance, compassion and justice are.

Affirm all that is human in every small way that you can. Pray, in whatever way is yours, for the victims and their families.

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