April 21, 2013

The Heart of The City

The investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings now enters a critical phase. We have the "who" of the case settled, but much investigative work remains. The weapons and explosives had to come from somewhere. Tracking those purchases back to their sources, interviewing anyone who ever came in contact with the suspect to piece together the sequence of events leading up to the April 15th bombings, searching back in each man's life to find the turning point ... all this will take time. There will be aftershocks for many months to come.

Which gets us to the "Why?" Why did they do it? What was their intent? To seek revenge or to make a point? Where is the manifesto, the statement of grievances, the list of sins for which they would have us do penance in blood? Who or what were the influences in their lives that took them from angst to anger to anarchism?

The question that haunts me is how did a nice kid -- a kid described as "wonderful ... completely outgoing, very engaged ... not overtly political or religious ...like any other high school kid." -- how did the kid next door become a terrorist bent on killing innocent people. Where did it come from, this capacity to do evil that transcended all moral bounds? We need to understand the journey these two men took from kids to killers. We need to know who got them started down that road and who helped them along the way.

Did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wonder how his life got this crazy as he lay in that boat for hours? Did he give a moment's thought to all the people he killed and wounded and wonder how it got to that? Did he remain committed to his still unknown cause or did he ask himself if it was worth the cost of a brother's life? Did beg his God for forgiveness? He has lived to tell the tale, and I want to hear what he has to say for himself.

In one of  Tsarnaev's last Tweets, he said, "Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people." Turns out he was dead wrong. There was an amazing amount of love in the city of Boston, the kind of selfless love that led strangers to rush side-by-side with first responders headlong back into danger to give aid and comfort to the wounded. An individual act of evil spawned countless acts of bravery and goodness.

If only the haters would understand that simple lesson. The way to fight evil is not with more evil. You don't stop killing with more killing. You don't gain justice through injustice. If you want a better world, you have to live a better life. 

Whether you read the Bible or the Koran or the Talmud or the Tibetan Book of Wisdom, the answer is the same. "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Amen to all that.

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