Last week is hard to explain.
I’m not quite sure we will ever be able to really understand why what happened, happened. The irrationality of the two young men who planted bombs and subsequently killed three people (a fourth at MIT) and injured hundreds at last week’s Boston Marathon is just that: irrational. There is no just reason for doing what they did. Sure, we may be able to say it was religiously motivated by radical beliefs. Fine, if that turns out to be the case, then so be it.
But let us not respond to irrationality and insanity with our own brand of such.
My friends, colleagues and readers, this will be the last time I write to you from this position in the Ramapo News, as I am graduating this summer. If there is one message I hope I can relay to you it is this: Do not categorize an entire religion or faith or ideals into what a select few made it out to be.
As I wrote in the beginning of the semester, Islam is not, has not and will not ever be our enemy. Let me also stress this message is coming from a Christian.
The deadly acts of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the accused suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, are inexplicable. Over the next few weeks, months, and even years, investigators, journalists and the American people will attempt to figure out why the two acted the way they did.
Early reports are surfacing that the two boys were ethnic Chechens, a federal subject of Russia that has been fighting for independence for many years. The region is predominantly Muslim and has been known to commit acts of violence and terrorism against civilians in order to further their cause. It is unclear yet if these were the motivations of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan.
I am aware that we are bound to jump to conclusions about the two and their intentions, but I urge us not to do so.
Let’s say, worst-case scenario, that the two brothers were radical Muslims with the goal in mind of destroying America. What would be our next step as a country? Judging based on our prior actions, are we to invade Chechnya and go about war mongering against Muslims? We have tried that before. Remember Afghanistan and Iraq? Let me remind you we are still there, 12 years later, and thousands of American soldiers are dead along with countless Afghans and Iraqis.
We all remember the day of Sept. 11, 2001 and the emotions we felt. Last Monday, I recall feeling some of those same raw emotions. The pandemonium that ensued in the city of Boston over the next five days was eerily similar to the utter chaos that consumed our country after 9/11. But this time we must act differently. We must show we are better. We must demonstrate we have changed.
And so far, I think we are doing so. Over the course of this week and weekend, despite all the tragedies that faced us, I have seen the good in people stand out. One example, though minor, really struck me.
The day after the bombing, the New York Yankees hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks for a regular season baseball game. As you may know, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are mortal enemies. The rivalry consumes fans, like myself, to the point where a literal hatred is developed for the opposition. Fights, brawls and all kinds of rude behavior are products of this feud. But despite all of this, at the end of the day, this was put aside. At last Tuesday’s game, the New York Yankees united the logos of the two teams and embedded the words, “United We Stand.” And then, at the end of the third inning, the Yankees played a Fenway Park and Boston classic, “Sweet Caroline.”
As minor and insignificant as this may seem, it begins to show the beauty of this country. This is a place where Yankee fans and Red Sox fans, though different in nature, still have at least one thing in common: they are Americans. We are all Americans, and this includes our Muslim brothers and sisters. This includes Christians, and Jews, and blacks, and whites, and gays. This includes us all.
Let us show the perils of evilness that we will not retaliate with violence and anger, but will respond with unity and forgiveness. Let us show that we have changed for the better. Let us show the real reason why we are in fact called the United States of America.