By Cassie Chambers
The contrast was shocking.
Early yesterday the lobby of Harvard Law School was full of voices, colour, and excitement. Students garbed in patriotic attire gathered to watch the Boston Marathon on screens provided by the deans' office.
It was a rare moment of collective celebration at a place often marked by intensity, stress and a sense of ongoing personal crisis.
A few hours later the lobby was silent. The American flag hats had disappeared. The television screens had morphed from sources of entertainment into sources of information.
Students looked to them for answers to our whispered questions: what is happening? Are we safe? Did your friend running the marathon make it out okay?
The terrorists succeeded yesterday.
The three dead and dozens injured are evidence of that twisted success. "I've never experienced fear like that," said Alex Schreck, a Boston Marathon volunteer, about the bombings.
Harvard Law students also admitted to more subtle impacts: pretending not to see a stranger asking for directions, avoiding Harvard Square hangouts to stay locked in our rooms, casting nervous glances at trash cans while walking down the street.
The creation of such fear is the point of terrorist activities.
The success of terrorism yesterday should only strengthen our resolve not to let the terrorists win today, tomorrow, or any other day in the future.
Although much of the response to yesterday's bombings can and should come out of America, there is a way London can help.
This weekend is the London marathon. Already, the wave of panic created in Boston spreading across the Atlantic. Sensationalist media reports seek to take our fear and inject it into your event.
Do not let this happen.
This is not to say that security isn't important. Clearly, safety precautions should be taken. But don't let the events in Boston steal your city's sense of pride, joy, and celebration.
In short: do not give in to the fear.
Too often, Americans use events like those of yesterday to turn inward; to isolate ourselves more from the world and from each other. If London stands with us in solidarity maybe—just maybe—our inclination towards isolationism will be just a little less pronounced.
So please, London: support your marathon, support your city and support the people of Boston.