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We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.
I Do Want to Know
The events of last week, beginning with the bombing at the Boston Marathon, shocked and saddened me. In that, I am sure that I am in good company. The sudden transition from community gathering for a well-known and popular public event with a long history, to horrific scene of carnage and tragedy is, indeed, shocking. Unlike much of the world, I have been shocked to the point of not knowing what to say... while all around me, the words have poured out from any number of people with plenty to say.
In the last couple of days, this bit has started to pop up on my Facebook feed, shared over and over and over:
I don't want to know his name. I don't want to see his face. I don't want to know his life's history, his back-story, who his family is, where he went to school, or what he liked to do in his spare time. I don't want to know what "cause", if any, he was fighting for. I don't want to know why he did it, or may have done it, or what possessed him to carry out his actions. I don't want to know. Because that's what he really wants. I'll be damned if I'm going to give him what he wants.
Put him on trial, but don't cover it. Tell me when you decide to jail him for three lifetimes - because that number matters. That's the number of lives he has to now pay for. That's all I want to know about him. Nothing else.
Instead, tell me about the first responders who ran towards the fray, within seconds, fearless. Tell me about the ones wearing the yellow volunteer jacket, or the neon police vest, or even the ones in the regular everyday t-shirt who became a helper. Tell me the story about the first responder who held gauze over a wound until they made it to the hospital. Tell me the story about the volunteer who held the hand of the injured spectator until they got into the ambulance. In six months, tell me the story of those who lost a limb, who beat the odds, pulled through countless surgeries, and are learning to walk again. Tell me the story about the love, the compassion, and the never-ending support of thousands, millions, of people who support the victims here. Tell me their stories. Tell me everything you can, because they are the ones that matter. Tell me of the good that they have done, are doing, and will continue to do, regardless of... No, not regardless of, in spite of. In spite of that someone who would do them harm. Because that's what freedom in this country means. It means coming together in the hardest of times, even in the face of unfathomable adversity, to make life better for all those around us.
Tell me the good stories. That's all I want to hear.
There is something so mean spirited, so unkind, and so unfeeling in that piece, that I am stunned that it has been spread far and wide across the wastelands of the Facebook network.
Here's the thing. I've been teaching for 24 years. A rough estimate puts the number of young ones who have passed through my classroom at about 1200. I've taught anywhere from 5th grade to 8th grade, over the years, and my "kids" have been somewhere between 10 and 14 years old when they spend the year with me. Some were sweet and others were funny. Many have been shy and unsure of who they were growing up to be. A few have been hurt, angry, sullen, and damaged, peering out at the world with suspicion that belied their young years. The names and the faces blur together out behind me, hundreds and hundreds of them... and I look at the face staring out from my television screen, and absolutely know that the face of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the face of someone's son; someone's student, someone's neighbor.
In fact, I think the faces of so many of these young, angry, violent young men look like the faces of so many of the boys I've known on their way to manhood. Dylan Klebold, and James Holmes, and Jared Loughner, and Adam Lanza are all my boys. Not literally, of course. But, in the scheme of things, there is nothing notable that sets these few apart from the boys I've struggled with over missing homework, and playground bullying, and silly antics upon the sudden awareness that the world is full of GIRLS. Which of these boys, grown into men, and then driven to acts of violence, would we have recognized when they were 10, or 11, or 12?
Unlike the person who put that horrible piece out on Facebook, I DO want to know. I want to know who this young, beautiful, wounded Dzhokhar is. I want to know who touched him, and who loved him, and who hurt him. I want to know when and how he came to feel so apart and so separated from the family of humanity that he was able to load his knapsack with a pressure cooker bomb, walk nonchalantly through the festive crowds at the finish line of the Boston marathon, set that homemade bomb down in the middle of all of that, and then walk away. I want to know -- and I think you should want to know, too. Because, all of those "experts" and "authorities" are right about one thing: there is no way to prevent this kind of thing in our society; no way to lock everything down and tighten up the security enough to keep us all safe. The only safety is to discover, in the most human part of ourselves, what it is that WE, as a society, as a world, as a species, are doing or not doing with and for our children so that they grow up to hate and kill and walk away.
I want to know.