Like many of you, when I heard about the explosions in Boston, it frightened me. And that is what terrorism does, it frightens and begs explanation. As the story unraveled and we learned that the terrorists were two brothers who had emigrated to the US with their family, something changed. Yes, they set off bombs and yes, people were killed, but now they were not "foreigners" but disaffected immigrants who's reasons for doing what they did are largely unknown. It didn't make their acts any less horrific, but the narrative changed.
And then the manhunt and the mortal wounding of one of the brothers. Citizens of Boston being told to stay off the streets while police and military personnel combed the area for the suspect. Finally, there was a celebration when the wounded suspect was reported to authorities who swooped in with explosive flash caps, robotics, and heat seeking technology and brought the seriously injured brother in.
And then the flag waving began. People who wanted to show themselves and perhaps the world that America and its ideals won't be stopped by bombers sang loudly at sporting events and unfurled the flag for all to see. They proclaimed as loudly as possible that we are indeed the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
And that is the part that I have a hard time understanding. Why do we need to wave the flag every time that something unspeakable happens? Is it possible that our own propaganda has been in the background of these events. Is it possible that we can just appreciate the fact that something that could have been, and I say this with the utmost respect to the persons who were killed and injured and their families and friends--far worse?
We may be a great and enviable people, but we are also confused. We are largely navel gazing and don't want to be concerned by other peoples' concerns as long as we are okay. Then, when something terrible happens, we thank God for making us special, but apparently not too special, and drag out Old Glory to remind others of why we are great and enviable.
We need to think about the difference between what we aspire to be and what we actually do. I do not know what the Tsarnaev brothers were thinking or the Columbine or Newtown gunmen or Timothy McVeigh, but I do think that they observed the difference between our flag waving ideals and the way we do business. Many people have made similar observations in the past, present, and will in the future. Many have acted in ways that address the grievance in a positive way, as opposed to engaging in senseless violence. And I suspect there will always be bipolarity between those pusing positive and by-any- means-necessary change.
Do we dare understand the motivation of these monsters? Or do we look in the mirror and agree that whatever shortcomings the US of A has, it is still the Greatest Country on Earth and we are proud to be Americans. Wrap the flag around that idea and get back to me.