In view of the week’s events in Boston, and various pronouncements about good and evil at war on our streets, I can do little better than to quote J. Michael Straczynski, writing after 9/11:
What DO we tell the children?
Do we tell them evil is a foreign face?
No. The evil is the thought behind the face, and it can look just like yours.
Do we tell them evil is tangible, with defined borders and names and geometries and destinies?
No. They will have nightmares enough.
Perhaps we tell them that we are sorry.
Sorry that we were not able to deliver unto them the world we wished them to have.
That our eagerness to shout is not the equal of our willingness to listen.
That the burdens of distant people are the responsibility of all men and women of conscience, or their burdens will one day become our tragedy.
Or perhaps we simply tell them that we love them, and that we will protect them. That we would give our lives for theirs and do it gladly, so great is the burden of our love.
In a universe of Gameboys and VCRs, it is, perhaps, an insubstantial gift. But it is the only one that will wash away the tears and knit the wounds and make the world a sane place to live in.