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Letters From Listeners

What Keeps Me Up At Night

My family and I live within close proximity of where both of the Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were raised. On the morning of April 19, 2013, my family was ordered to evacuate. Thankfully, we had a safe place to seek refuge on that terrifying morning.

Ironically, the thing that keeps me awake at night, is not that my husband, young children, and I reside within yards of the those who apparently set bombs to explode upon the Boston Marathon, it is that every time I turn on the television, I hear an excuse or reprieve for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It sickens me that when his name is mentioned, it is followed by an excuse to rationalize his behavior due to his older brother's obvious alliance to jihad. As if his older brother's influence somehow nullifies his own evil actions, decisions and subsequent devastation. Every step that Dzhokhar took the morning of the Boston Marathon with a backpack full of explosives was a conscious decision to murder innocent Americans. When he took the pack from his back and placed it under those unsuspecting victims that was a conscious decision to end human lives. The moment he chose to leave the vicinity once the bombs were placed so he and his brother could not be harmed from the inevitable killing blasts, was a conscious decision. When Dzhokhar chose to attend his college campus parties, classes and dorm as if nothing happened the days following the bombing, was a conscious decision. When he chose to hurl pipe bombs from a stolen Mercedes several days later, was a conscious decision. When a police officer died and another seriously injured as a result of this exchange of gunfire was a conscious decision. This 19-year-old adult, decided to undertake an act of treason as well as an act of terrorism upon his own accord. No one forced him at gunpoint to do any of the acts of which he had been accused.

Also, his acts took the course of several days. Not once, was there a minuscule sign of ambivalence when he chose to place a bomb of destruction and mayhem, not once was there a sign of remorse for the pain and loss that inevitably ensued, not once was there a sign of responsibility when he chose to hide in a boat and evade capture from authorities.

So at what point do we, as Americans, hold somebody accountable for their actions? I have two young children that, unbeknownst to me, were in the midst of evil. How do I teach my own children accountability for their actions? When even an evil person plots and enacts, a horrific act of violence and is given an out because his "older" brother influenced his behavior. At what point, are we going to judge and denounce a person because of the acts of who they are in the present instead of who they once were as a child? The thing that keeps me up at night is that we are so willing to excuse reprehensible behavior because we are so entrenched as to finding why that behavior occurred, as if, the why can somehow prevent future evil from penetrating our fragile sense of identity.

Tags: Character-Courage-Conscience, Character/Courage/Conscience, Morals/Ethics/Values, Values
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