We have not journeyed all this way because we are made of sugar candy.

Winston S. Churchill

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Bangladesh.  Istanbul.  Brussels.  Paris.  Orlando.  San Bernardino.  Boston.  Fort Hood. 9-11.  The Marine Barracks in Lebanon.

I grew up in Boston.  The place itself has character.  It is a strong place because of its people, its history and its ethos.  Yes, the place has a legacy of independence, of freedom, of courage.  It lives that legacy today.

To live on the “wrong side of the tracks” in Boston as I did was a great blessing. When the days are hard and the money thin and that is the plight of each and everyone you know, you learn about life and bond with others.  In such a place you have friends as I do for now 68 years, 64 years, 60 years, 55 years, 50 years … Yes, in places that are hard life is never hidden and friendship becomes kinship, becomes family.

In such places you learn to love. You learn about loyalty, and honor, fraternity. You come in close contact with suffering, injustice, human folly.  You learn to laugh and your language is plain and direct and it can act as a sword that when drawn avoids more conflict than it creates because people know you mean what you say.

In such places you learn to live for life in all its forms abounds in hardships and fraternity. Where the rubber hits the road, there is no need for computer games about enemies and combat.

Yes, in such places life challenges you alone but it does the same to everyone you know. The soil of such places grow friendship, faith, family, clan, character, courage and freedom.

In such places you claim your life and acquire toughness.  Not a toughness that makes you a bully but a toughness that makes you dependable, makes you ready to aid another, come to the defense of a stranger, stand up to those who seek to intimidate and those who threaten or attack.

Today I wonder if we are tough enough to attend to the threats and attacks we face. Among those who occupy public space it seems not.

You learn in places like Boston clear rules about life – one is this: never expect someone who has never been in a fight to lead you when you face one.  Another is this: if someone will not defend themselves they will not defend you.  It is, frankly, a matter of toughness.

Are we tough enough?  That is the question.

Across the land in many places we are.  But at the top?  That’s another question.

… carrying the cross himself he went to what is called the Place of the Skull … There they crucified him …

Jn 19: 17, 18