Human beings can be subject to unthinkable sorrow and loss at a moment’s notice. We’ve all read the stories: a tornado destroys a church during the Sunday service, taking not only the roof but the lives of many who were worshiping joyfully beneath it, a mud slide buries families in the very rooms that once sheltered and sustained them, bombs explode at a marathon ripping into bodies, property, and the feeling that we are somehow safe from the horrors happening in other parts of the world.
In the wake of a disaster, I am grateful for assistance from groups like the Red Cross. But what really stands out in my mind are the sacrificial actions of common men, we the people, you and me.
I have witnessed the post-disaster kindness of others firsthand. In 2004 Hurricane Charley tore through the state of Florida. I was living in Orlando with my young daughter and our three cats.
One has a reasonable expectation of being safe from hurricanes in the middle of a state. Still, I made preparations as instructed. Even as nightfall brought a steadily rising wind, I remained convinced those preparations would end up being for nothing. At 9 pm I found out how wrong I was.
According to the Doppler radar on the TV screen, our neighborhood was about to take a direct hit. We had seven minutes. I was terrified, but one learns to fake calm in the presence of children. The world outside was already going crazy. I couldn’t imagine it was about to get a lot worse.
At precisely 9:07 pm, it did.
Forty-five minutes later, in a decreasing, but still dangerously strong wind, Kenny Williams picked his way through the damage, shouting out names and knocking on doors in a roll call of compassion I will never forget. The sound of his voice was not only reassuring but incredible to hear as we huddled in the dark, wondering what was left beyond the walls of our tiny bathroom.
As traumatic as that night was, we had warning. Imagine facing a disaster with no warning, no ability to prepare at all. That seems to be more the norm with disasters.
People live their lives and do the best they can. They make their choices, fall in love, get married, raise a family. They celebrate their successes. They make their mistakes. Sometimes they dodge a bullet. And sometimes the bullets hit home because they are too numerous to dodge and are coming at them from all sides.
I imagine that’s what it must feel like to be a member of the Tsarnaev family right now. For them, the bullets are still flying.
All of us know what it feels like to be judged. And we’ve all done the judging at least once in our lives. We’re wired that way. I am no exception.
Our quickest judgments seem directed at those whose failures most closely mirror our own. But those who fail in ways we deem unthinkable to duplicate receive our harshest pronouncements.
I wonder how many people have watched the drama that continues to play out in the Tsarnaev family only to sit back and say “That could never happen to us, to my kids, to me.”
You may be right, but what if you’re not? What if it did? How would you want the rest of us to feel? How would you want us to see your family, your mom, your child, you?
I know what I’d feel and what I’d want to see happen. I’d want someone like me to come along: someone who has failed again and again, someone who has been rejected more times than they care to count, someone who has lost everything, someone who’s had to stand strong and steady while those closest to them said “You did this to yourself.”
Dear Anzor, Zubeidat, Bella and Ailina,
I want you to know that though I have never met your son and brother, Dzhokhar, I feel a mother’s love and concern for him. I hurt for him, for all of you. It grieves me to think of what you are forced to endure.
May God draw close to you and give you rest and peace as you trust in Him. I believe He has a plan in all this terrible mess and in His perfect time, He will reveal that plan and bring it to pass.
He is able to turn the deepest mourning into dancing! He is the God of the impossible! His miracle-working power has not diminished. He can be trusted for He is faithful to do what He has promised.
You are right that your son is in the claws of a predator but I believe this is only temporary. I pray for Dzhokhar daily. And God speaks to me. Although I am not a Muslim, I hope this Bible verse will bring you a measure of comfort: “Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?” Surely, thus says the Lord, “Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons.” Isaiah 49: 24 – 25
Please know that there are many Americans who do not rejoice at your hurt. There are many who stand ready to help and we are trying in every way possible to reverse the terrible and unjust outcome of his trial.
With love and support,
In my opinion, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s guilt has not been proven. Yes, a jury was impaneled, but it was far from being a jury of his peers, and even further from being unbiased. Yes, a verdict was reached, but it was based on emotion. (Anger is an emotion. Fear is an emotion.)
Yes, people took the stand, but as witnesses to the horror they experienced, nothing more. Not one of them witnessed anything to do with actions taken by the accused and that is understandable. With attention focused on the finish line, no one saw anything directly connecting the defendant to the bombing.
Pictures were displayed, but what they showed was so unclear they required explanation; the naked eye could tell you nothing. Videos were shown of figures who could have been anyone. When hard evidence was presented, such as fingerprint and electronic evidence, it did not point to the defendant.
Why do I care about this? Why can’t I just accept that a trial was held and a verdict was reached? Why can’t I stop asking questions after twelve people agreed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty and deserves nothing less than to die for his crime?
Because, for one thing, I want to feel safe again.
I want to go to the Boston Marathon or anywhere, for that matter, and not worry that I will be caught up in the next senseless attack. I don’t want my neighborhood, my city, my crowded public celebration to be next, or yours. We, the people, deserve that.
And because something deep inside tells me we got this one wrong and only the acquittal of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will make it right.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9