“He was so grateful to be here, he was compassionate, he was caring, he was jovial.” That’s how a neighbor described Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We’re told that he was a dedicated wrestler who returned to high school to mentor younger team members, a happy if quiet student with plenty of friends. One said, “We don’t really understand. There were no telltale signs of any kind of malicious behavior from Dzhokar. It’s all coming as a shock, really.” His father called Dzhokhar “a true angel.”
To the names of Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski we can now add the Tsarnaev brothers. Their story is the worst-case scenario in the struggle against terrorism. The brothers came to the United States legally with their parents more than 10 years ago. They had given no indication of any anti-American sentiments. While Tamerlan was apparently arrested for domestic violence in July 2009 after assaulting his girlfriend, a former teacher said of Dzhokhar, “It’s completely out of his character. . . . I mean this from the deepest part of my heart: It’s not possible it’s the same person. It’s just not possible.”
The brothers allegedly used pressure cooker bombs described in a detailed how-to manual published online by al Qaeda. If they could be radicalized, who else is a threat to us this morning?
How should we respond? We can cancel all public events susceptible to bombing. We can tighten security to a level that impedes terrorists but strangles daily life. Or we can follow Tom Friedman’s advice. Writing in The New York Times the day after the bombing, he suggested, “Let’s repair the sidewalk immediately, fix the windows, fill the holes and leave no trace—no shrines, no flowers, no statues, no plaques—and return life to normal there as fast as possible. Let’s defy the terrorists, by not allowing them to leave even the smallest scar on our streets, and honor the dead by sanctifying our values, by affirming life and all those things that make us stronger and bring us closer together as a country.”
How do you think our country should respond to the Boston Marathon bombing? And remember the truth of Scripture, quoted by President Obama in Boston last week and from pulpits across our land yesterday: “God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).
Meg Cabot notes, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” Why do you need such courage today?