(This was supposed to publish last week. While I like the wordpress app, scheduling posts with it is a bit difficult.)
By now, almost everyone knows the identity of the two brothers who chose to place bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. So many have cried out for justice, have celebrated the death of the older brother, Tamerlan, have praised the successful capture of 19 year old Dzhokhar and have called for his constitutional rights to be suspended and for him to be treated like an enemy combatant. (I have never been more ashamed of a vote that I have cast than I am of the one I cast for Senator Lindsey Graham.) Unfortunately, I believe that many people have confused justice with vengeance.
This reminded me of a quote my pastor used in a sermon a few years back, a quote from a Muslim woman who lived in the former Yugoslavia. (Taken from the book Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf.)
“I am a Muslim, and I am thirty five years old. To my second son who was just born, I gave the name ‘Jihad.’ So he would not forget the testament of his mother–revenge. The first time I put my baby at my breast I told him, ‘May this milk choke you if you forget.’ So be it. The Serbs taught me to hate. For the last two months there was nothing in me. No pain, no bitterness. Only hatred.”
Hate is a terrible thing. Hate is like necrotizing fasciitis, a tiny microbe that eats away at a person until no life remains. I cannot say what kind of hate drove Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev but a person does not act as those brothers did without hate lodged deep in their heart.
This is why I refuse to hate. I refuse to distance myself from Dzhokar Tzarnaev and characterize him as other, as a horrible evil entity worthy of the deprivation of his rights because he is somehow less than human.
Dzhokhar is a 19 year old naturalized American citizen. More than that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a human being worthy of compassion. There is no man so evil that he cannot be saved. There is no action a man can take that would put him beyond the hope of salvation.
That is why I refuse to hate. I refuse to let something that I love so much, the Boston Marathon, be the root of hate in my heart.