Very recently I had the opportunity to visit Boston during a very difficult time for our nation, in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing. The trip itself my mother and I had planned since Christmas, to visit my younger brother and see him perform a movement piece at The Boston Conservatory.
This blog is never a rant really, and I don’t wish to throw out an offensive opinion and stand staunchly behind it as absolute truth, yet I do feel the need to set my thoughts on the matter delicately down on the page and ask thoughtfully what others are feeling right now.
I am not from Boston, and we knew that my brother was safe before it even hit the news with a short text: “There was a bomb, I’m OK, they might turn our phones off, tell you more later.” I wasn’t worried for him personally, and at this point in my life, I feel like I’m almost desensitized to the vulgarity of the news, I was shocked for a minute or two, then curious. My mind buzzed with questions and wondered who did it, why they did it, how many people were hurt, would there be more?
The first thing I heard that bothered me was: “two people have been killed including an eight-year-old boy.” I was struck by the tragedy of the loss of the short life of a child, but it made me feel like they were placing a higher value on his life than on the lives of the other two women who were eventually revealed as mortal victims of the attack. Query #1: Is the life of a child worth any more than the life of a young adult?
The second bee in my bonnet was the statement: “A rumor coming out now that the oldest brother received training from an Al-Qaeda like group, we can neither confirm or deny this statement.” I naturally followed in with an immediate, “then why say it?” I feel like it’s a bit irresponsible to say such a thing, and it seemed like fear mongering. What else does it accomplish but to infuriate people against the incorrect group, or terrify people unnecessarily? There will be others who come away from that reporting with the knowledge that we were attacked by Al-Qaeda without understanding that this is not quite what was said. Query #2: Is there any danger in the media saying something like this, and if so, should there be any punishment for this?
Query #3: Does fear turn us into racists overnight?
When the picture of the younger brother appeared on my television my gut reaction was strange. I saw a little boy, with kind eyes, who looked awkward, peering out of the TV standing with the gangling hunch of a high-schooler who’s too tall for his body. I wanted to hug him. He looked almost scared, he looked like he could be my own brother, I wanted to cry.
I remembered myself at nineteen, the invincible girl who knew everything. The strange and awkward body I wasn’t used to that refused to fill out, who put on a brave face at school then came home and cried every week because I couldn’t fit in. I remembered my little brother when we were growing up, how he always wanted to do whatever I was doing, how we played dress up and I made him wear a dress but he didn’t care as long as he was playing with me. I was awful to him constantly, but he loved me anyways.
I knew right from wrong, but the consequences of my actions weren’t real. My father was paying for everything, I had no job or sense of money. I was responsible for nothing and there was always an out available to me. I wasn’t even a person yet, and I think of that boy on the television and I see an average kid who’s hated and feared and facing a probable death. If we kill him do we not also take away his only chance to grow and realize the terrible err of his ways? Query#4: Once a person, even at so young an age, has committed such an act, do they not matter as a person anymore? Is their life worthless, total forfeit, and do they not have any chance of contributing to society?
That’s really all I have to say on the matter. My heart and soul truly goes out to everyone who was a victim of the attacks, it is a sad time for our country and a time for healing. I also acknowledge the dynamic effort of the police to bring in the second bomber without any more loss of life, as well as the amazing job done by the medical teams that resulted in the saving of every single victim not killed immediately by the initial blast. This was a tragedy on so many levels, and my emotions are entangled over the entire affair, but I would really love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the matter.