I am in limbo. In lock-down, to be precise, sitting in a hotel in downtown Boston, looking out over the Commons and Commonwealth Avenue—two names that evoke us as a civic entity.
The city is eerily pretty. It feels like early Sunday morning, the streets almost empty, a few people walking their dogs or admiring the blossoms of cherry trees and dogwoods.
Yesterday, we had the freedom of the city, albeit punctuated by some barricades, tanks, heavily armored police, and the echoes of shock and sadness from Sunday’s events. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts and private art collections with our Founders Society of the Cincinnati Art Museum, enjoying the wonders of this city. In the evening we went to the Boston Symphony. There, one of the orchestra’s members reminded us from the stage of Leonard Bernstein’s call to play louder and better in response to violence.
This morning, we woke up to paralysis. I was able to walk with my Founders across the Commons to Saint Gaudens’ Shaw Monument, the brilliant memorial to the African-American regiment Colonel Shaw raised during the Civil War. There, I read Robert Lowell’s poem on the place, “For the Union Dead." A bit melodramatic, I know, but a reminder of the values for which we stand and in which we believe.
This, to me, is what is most awful about being here, now: to have life and then freedom taken away. The first loss is fundamental, horrible, and irretrievable. The second loss might seem for us now an inconvenience, and trivial, but it is pernicious. I can only look forward to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.