Normally I don't write about attacks by terrorists. Readers are informed over and over about such events, details of what happened and a steady stream of commentaries by specialists. The theme at week's end is security officers want answers, including why the young men committed this terrible deed.
Most officials describe the act as a crime. I have no doubt Tamerlan and Dzhokbar Tsarnaev did not consider their act a crime. They may have considered it an act of war, or a retaliation. They may have considered it serving their god, or acting like the commandos sent into France from Britain during World War II.
They have been described as insane but they were not insane. Somewhere a leader, probably much older than they, convinced them to risk their lives in the service of their sect.
When I was in my teens and early twenties, I searched for truth, chiefly in the bible, but also in the scriptures of eastern religions. I felt I had found the meaning of the crucifixion while listening to the ministry of Billy Graham. Simply put, God set a punishment for sin that no human could bear. He begat a son who was without sin to take the punishment for the sins of humanity. That's the good news of the gospel.
I considered entering the ministry then. The man who interviewed me was wise enough to see I wasn't totally committed to the calling when I expressed concern at leaving my aging father to serve in some remote parish. I've been glad of that partly because, like another ardent young preacher at that time, I would have had to renounce my position as my understanding of the meaning of life changed.
My point is this. Only young people still in the seeking years are apt to be drawn into schemes that are likely to end as did the Tsarnaev youths'. The government of Canada is drafting law to protect us from such young men. Likely it will be about as efficient as seat belts in saving lives and for the same reason. Too many people ignore laws that seem to be unreasonable.
The same thinking results in parents refusing to have their children immunized against deadly diseases because somebody persuades them inoculi cause autism.
Circulating on the Internet is a page with two pictures. One is of American parents holding a child killed by a terrorist. The other is eastern parents holding a child killed by an American drone. The caption asks, "What is the difference?"
One of my sons agreed with me that one is collateral death. The drone was directed at a leader who took shelter in the midst of families knowing it might deter his foes from risking innocent lives. In some situations the people are willing to act as shields. They can't be considered to be innocent bystanders. The bombs set off by the Tsarnaevs were not intended to kill leaders.
My son wisely reminded me that every time a missile kills a child it generates a whole new group of people raging for retaliation.
Well meant laws can have surprising effects. The Puritans in America tried to curb behaviour by punishing those who defied the rules. The punishments were made more severe as the behaviour continued. People actually flocked to the colony to defy the regulators. The more severe the punishment, even to the extent of lopping off limbs, the more people came.
I learned something of this escalating conflict when I was a teen. The cow I was milking kicked at the milk pail. I used the milk stool to smash her across the hips. The more I hammered, the more she kicked. We reached a truce when I stopped pounding her.
I don't suggest we should have no measures to defend ourselves. I do urge our legislators to understand the possibility of breeding insurgency.
Reporters urge witnesses to describe their feelings at the time of events, be it bombing, earthquake or tornado. Martha and I agree we don't feel angry and ready to demand an eye for an eye in the Boston trouble. We feel deeply sad that people resort to such heinous methods in the struggle for a better world.