Everyone needs an enemy. That’s what we saw last night when the second suspect was caught in the Boston Marathon Bombing. It took the “other” to bring us all together, to unite everyone in a common cause. The night was reminiscent of the comradery we felt after 9/11. Too bad it takes a tragedy.
But as a parent, especially one like me with teenagers, it’s especially troubling to know the suspect was a teen, one who was considered a good kid, a kid who played sports and hung out with his friends just like your kid and mine. He was some woman’s baby, some teacher’s second-grade student. Where did we go wrong, I’m wondering. And how can we keep our kids tight to us, as parents and as a society, so they don’t wander off and become criminals? (I would not call these brothers terrorists, though they did terrorize a city.) Say what we want, but that younger suspect, Dzhokar Tsamaev, who was well-adjusted and liked by so many of his peers, must have taken some serious influencing by his brother to turn him against the friends and neighbors of his city. As he lay on the ground, handcuffed, his shirt exposed a skinny, smooth belly that still belonged to a boy.
The parents said their children were good kids; they were in disbelief that their sons could have committed such crimes. That would be my reaction, too. My next reaction would be, where did I go wrong? I would be so angry with myself for letting loose into the world children who could cause so much harm and suffering for others.
A recent Unicef report said that we’ve created a violent society for our kids: we have the 3rd high homicide rate among developed nations. Parents fear for their kids’ safety, even at school, which is supposed to be a safe haven for our children. But it’s kids who are killing us, children as well as adults. This recent tragedy– and it’s 19-year-old suspect. In Newtown, Adam Lanza was 20. In Colorado, James Holmes was a 25-year-old grad student, with a nurse for a mother and a father who is a mathematician a PhD. These are pretty typical young Americans who are terrorizing us. Maybe we need to stop worrying about our kids as victims and start worrying about our kids turning into killing machines.
The CNN headline this morning reads “The Terror is Over.” Until the next time, that is. I know that a bombing is not an every-day occurrence here in America, fortunately, but violence against others is. Whether a person kills one or many, it makes no difference. We need to understand what is making our young Americans so angry and disenfranchised that they feel the only way to get our attention, to speak to us, is through horrific acts of violence.