Back to the Arsenal Mall: Questions After the Marathon Bombings
My wife and I are shopping again at the Arsenal Mall. And then waving in thanks to a Watertown Cop driving past. The new normal after lock down and neighborhood terror days. If you lived near here, you have indelible personal experiences about the meaning of ultra violence, running gun fights, sheltering in place, and manhunts.
Having skin in the game, makes me want to raise three questions. First, what did the FBI know, and when did they know it? That's the most politically explosive question, and should be answered in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Second, and more importantly, how could a kid like Dzhokhar, if what is alleged is true, become a terrorist psycho-killer? He's a graduate of Cambridge Latin, an elite public high school, a straight A student, an athlete, thin and tall, walking with an easy manner, social, hat on backwards. He resembles a typical college kid, looking quite like my own twenty year old son. And yet, he's Suspect Number Two, carrying bombs to kill innocents.
My wife, a psychiatric clinician with over twenty years experience and thousands of cases, had never seen someone with such a split between normal and murderous--if Tsarnaev really went from soccer practice to bombing and then back to school chatting with friends, and back to bomb throwing, the behavior is unexplained and needs further answers.
In her trade, this is refered to as the “missing factors of influence”, and these need to be exposed in a trial for this American citizen.
Dzhokhar gives every sign of being a normal kid, not an isolated paranoid, not a rageaholic about to explode, and yet he made choices, maybe out of a mixture of conviction and loyalty to an older brother, to engage in heinous “political” acts. That's a big problem.
Third, what has be done about this? Beyond further endless growth of a national security state and erosion of civil liberties, it's time to seriously and systematically teach our kids about non-violence as personal and political tool.
From kindergarten to high school, a nonviolence program would teach kids, in age appropriate ways, about active nonviolent responses to conflict. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but after 12 years of non-violence discussions, a Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might have convinced his brother to take nonviolent actions, risked arrest to make a non-violent political point, and have ample opportunity to explain and discuss it with us.
And, of course, if trained in non-violence, in the spirit of Dr. King, such civil disobesience would be the culmination of a campaign of public education, and discussion of their grievances.
It's much better to teach our kids to stand up for their beliefs, or lay down in the road if necessary, and risk jail, than to act as the embodiment of a “first person shooter” video game or an ultra-violent revenge movie phantasy like Django Unchained.
The American Friends Service Committee has developed excellent materials on non-violence education, and has long experience in nonviolently standing up to bullies from the Nazis to the Slavers. That's a good place to start.
AFSC: 1947 Nobel Peace Prize lecture
Los Angeles Peace and Nonviolence Education Program
Peace by Piece Education Program Los Angeles
Roy Morrison lives in Newton MA. He's an energy consultant and writer.