Wake up, America

With recent events in Boston, it’s hard not to reflect on what has happened in America the past 18 years I’ve been alive. This country endures a lot of hate and abuse from its enemies. Granted, we are a wealthy country. A good amount of Americas have food on the table and a roof over their heads, which is more than many people in other countries can say. However, watching your country fly up in flames is a tragedy no one should have to endure.

The Boston Marathon bombings were the first terrorist attack that I was old enough to follow, and I took full advantage of that. I was concerned, worried and intrigued all at the same time. I wanted to know who, what, when, where and why things like this happened. I wanted to understand why these people did what they did.

Photo from BusinessInsider.com.

After the news released that the bombers were Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, I was floored. 19? I’m almost 19. My first thought was, “How can something so evil and hurtful come from someone so young?” After Tamerlan was pronounced dead, the manhunt for Dzhokhar began and I was glued to my computer screen. Luckily for me, a popular website, Reddit, had a user that was streaming updates from a police scanner as well as links to online police scanners.

So instead of celebrating Quadfest with every other alcohol obsessed college student, I spent all afternoon and night on Fri., April 19, listening to an online police scanner and refreshing my Reddit page. During the final minutes of the manhunt, Twitter went crazy, news articles were flooding in and I couldn’t be more relieved that this villain was caught. Like everyone else, I was posting funny “USA” posts on Twitter and throwing a mini “we caught him” party.

However, after the chaos of joy had passed, I sat down and read all the news articles being released about these boys. The main focus of these had been the 19-year-old kid who gave America a run for their money — Dzhokhar. It’s hard for me to say this, being a proud American navy brat, but I actually started to feel sympathy for this boy. Not sympathy towards his punishment — he’s getting what he deserves — but sympathy towards his situation. He’s only 19. He had an entire life ahead of him, and now that bright future is gone. All because he made the wrong choice.

I think that’s what the hardest part of this attack was for me. I could relate to this terrorist, which is something I couldn’t have said about any of the others. This attacker wasn’t a middle-aged man with a personal vendetta against America. This was a second year college student. His friends described him as “nice,” “funny” and “shy.” He lived in America for more than ten years. He has a Twitter. He uploaded videos of him and his brother joking around. He looked like, for all intents and purposes, a normal American teenager.

I don’t want to justify what he did, or take anything away from the pain he caused this country. However, I can’t help but feel bad for him. He is so young and, as well all know, young people make rash decisions. We let our emotions get the best of us. We act on impulse. We let others convince us. This boy was not old enough, in my opinion, to realize just what he was getting himself into. Even if he did, it’s a shame a young life is now being ripped apart because of hate and violence. I can’t help but feel that the world is really crashing down when someone so young can find so much hate in themselves to do something like this.

This attack meant more to me than an act of violence against America. To me, it was a wake up call to what this world is becoming. It was a reminder that it only takes two young boys to hurt so many. From where I’m standing, this was a sign that if the people of the world don’t start believing in peace soon, who knows what’s going to come of our nations.