04/17/2013 12:53 pm ET Updated Jun 17, 2013

What Can You and I Learn From the Boston Marathon?

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Yet again the unbelievable has happened -- an ordinary and beautiful moment turns into a senseless disaster, and we're heartbroken, outraged, and frustrated. Why? Who? And, most importantly, how can we stop it from happening again? Sadly, we have few answers when it comes to finding a way to make us all as safe as we once were.

My first reaction was to worry about my young friend Whitney, whose dream was to "outdo myself" in the Boston Marathon. Happily, she crossed the finish line 45 minutes before the blasts, and understandably she's now counting her blessings, as are all who have long been inspired by her personal courage.

I have no idea how to keep us secure or how to rid the world of evil, but I just saw a photo that tells us exactly what we can do. Perhaps you, too, saw the picture of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who was killed in the explosion, holding up a school artwork poster he'd once painted on which he gives us a chillingly clear message:

"No more hurting people."

Instantly he touched my heart -- that's a lesson I can do my best to remember, as can you. While I'd like to think that I'd never intentionally hurt anyone, I know I have done so, more than I'll ever know. I believe that if each of us follow Martin's plea at a whole new level, the world will be a safer place.

Let's begin by contemplating the question, "What do I do that hurts others?" Here's how I'd have to respond:

  • "I know better, so I don't bother to listen as well as I should."
  • "I silently judge others."
  • "I don't always take the time to reach out when I know I'm needed."
  • "I don't remember that others have the answers -- they don't need my good ideas."
  • "I interrupt."
  • "I forget that I'm loved and appreciated."

I know there's more, but that's it for now -- and plenty to work on. So, if you're as moved as I am by Martin, what are your answers to this question? Take just five minutes to make a note of them.

Secondly, ask yourself, "How can I remember not to hurt others?" Keep your responses as short and memorable as possible -- make it simple and you're more apt to remember your lessons in the heat of battle. Here are mine:

  • Practice loving-kindness.
  • Trust others to have the answers.
  • Listen and reflect before I respond.

Please do this exercise -- just being moved by Martin's poster makes little difference compared to remembering his message.

Leave a comment below or write to me: I'd love to read what you want to learn from this tragedy.

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