After the elation everyone felt Friday night when the second suspected Boston Marathon bomber was captured after a bloody manhunt, the mood dropped again.
Some fellow parents lamented the fact that a 19-year-old kid could do what Dzhokar Tsarnaev is accused of doing. They pictured him curled up in a ball in that backyard boat in Watertown, scared beyond all comprehension. Tsarnaev
is someone’s child, someone pointed out.
Here’s why I’m less sympathetic.
I was a real punk at 19. I had little to no respect for my elders. I had a violent temper and broke things on an almost daily basis. I drank, I smoked, I lied. I drove recklessly. I held people in contempt if they didn’t share my so-called values. You could say I was a time bomb. Sooner or later, I could have done something that would have landed me in jail. As it turned out, I chose to turn that destructive energy on myself instead.
I’m not a special case. I know a lot of people who were like that at 19. Some of them are no longer among us. Those who are have built beautiful families, careers and lives.
I never seriously plotted to hurt anyone. I sure as hell would never have dropped a bomb at someone’s feet and have run. Most of the young punks I knew wouldn’t have done so, either.
If the charges are proven true, Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan had something in them that most of us lack: the will and desire to take innocent lives.
I do feel badly for Dzhokar on one point: He was probably under the influence of and led astray by his older brother. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that a kid did things he wouldn’t have done unless pushed by an older sibling he revered and wanted to please at all costs. I wanted to please my older brother, too. But he was a better role model and, had he lived to adulthood, I’d have been better for it.
Dzhokar killed and maimed people. It’s harder to feel sympathy for him than for your typical 19 year old.
Maybe he’ll turn his life around and do some serious soul-scouring. He may earn forgiveness along the way and find ways to help people. If convicted, he’ll have to tend to those things from prison. When you hurt people the way he is accused of doing, you lose all rights to freedom.
That may be cold, but it’s how I feel.