Boston Marathon bombings

An Iraqi boy draws the war planes that bombed his house, killing all his family members, and injuring him.
An Iraqi boy draws the war planes that bombed his house, killing all his family members, and injuring him. | Source

It's a thing of beauty in a way—
the purity of it, the power,
the ability to clear away
everything which isn't itself
and to do it so simply—
a push of a button,
a deep rumble, and
a bright orange flash.

Funny to think that somewhere
someone is victorious.
For someone, that moment,
that fraction of a heartbeat
was likely the greatest victory
of their lives.

It's easy to see the appeal.
To so easily and completely
exert one's will onto others.
To so seductively strip away
clothing and flesh and blood
and to then pretend that
something has been accomplished.
And all it requires is a willingness
to sacrifice a little bit of blood.

And so once again we will weep.
Once again we will repeatedly
let the abstract symbolism
of justice and retribution
spill from our mouths.
Once again we will likely ignore
that no matter what happens in life,
the very next moment is
always a choice.

A decade ago we made our choice.
We chose violence and destruction
and the death of innocents.
We chose to exert abstractions
through instances of our own perfect light.
We chose to disjoin flesh
in the same pretty flashes of orange.

We have little cause to wonder
why this happened or who did it.
We did it.
We are the bomber.
We collectively,
who choose the same easy path,
who choose abstractions and symbols
over the reality of blood and flesh,
who choose artificial lines on maps
which dutifully require
tears for the dead on one side
and ignorance of the dead on the other.

We who choose bombs over words.

On the news, Boston will receive
non-stop coverage.
An hour's worth of news
spread out over a whole day.
Meanwhile, the bombings in Iraq—
a dozen or so of them
on the same day—
won't get a minute of our time.

For the cute American boy
there will be photos and laments,
as there should be,
but for the Iraqi children
there won't even be names.
We are too busy waiving
flags at our greatness
to bother with that.

If Americans really want to do
something meaningful today,
they should save their prayers
and choose to stop blowing up
innocent people in crowds.
otherwise, there is nothing
moral to be said.
There is only might.

In truth,
we seem to like it that way.

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Comments 10 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

The radical Islamic jihadists like the Boston bombers deliberately target civilians, while our military tries to avoid them if at all possible.

There is no moral equivalency here.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan Author

They may target civilians, that isn't really their goal, it is simply flesh which happens to be in the way of their agenda. There are always lots of ways to accomplish an agenda. They happened to choose a particular one which is detrimental to innocent bystanders.

We also have an agenda. Whether we specifically target civilians or try to avoid them, we know that some will end up in the way. I don't really see any moral difference in that. We don't have to accomplish our agenda the way we do. That is something we have chosen. Just like they did. We have accepted a means to an end that we know will kill innocent people. There's really no getting around that.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"They may target civilians, that isn't really their goal, it is simply flesh which happens to be in the way of their agenda."

What is your source for that claim? What then, is their 'agenda'? There was no target other than innocent people at the Marathon! There was no military target!

The Boston bombs were designed to Al Qaeda specifications specifically to kill and maim as many civilians as possible.

You need to explain yourself.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan Author

An agenda is the end place that one wants to be. It is the thing that someone will write down if given one sentence to explain what they want to accomplish. I don't know the Boston bomber's agenda. It may have been to be famous, to get revenge for fallen brethren, to please their imaginary god, the downfall of America, or one of a bazillion other possibilities. I highly doubt it was simply to kill people though. That was merely a step along the path. If that's all they wanted, there's no need to make such a symbolic and public spectacle.

Similarly, we could examine the American agenda. Is it to kill innocent people? No, to kill Al Qaeda? Not really. Our agenda is to make America safe. Killing Al Qaeda, which also includes killing innocents, is simply one possible path, out of many, that we have chosen, and it is, in my opinion, just as wrong as the path the Boston bombers chose.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

The Islamic jihad agenda is to make Islam the law of the world, and force submission through terrorism or death to unbelievers.

Do you really want to equate that monstrous goal with America's goal of destroying Islamic jihad's ability to make war on us? Are you really saying we have no right to defend ourselves?

Again, there is no moral equivalency here.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan Author

Of course there is no moral equivalency if you choose to define the same thing in two different ways. The exact same things you say are said by them in reverse. We are the monsters and they the righteous. There are two apples on the table and you're trying to call one an orange. If it is something different, then you'd have to point out something different about it, not just call it by a different name.

Both sides are wrong. Both sides need to stop blowing people up.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I said you were resorting to the logical fallacy of declaring moral equivalency, and that's exactly what you just did!

You don't even realize it.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan Author

I don't realize it because I didn't do it. I obviously don't think it's a fallacy. That's been made perfectly clear.


Sanxuary 3 years ago

If one is dedicated to making a great personal sacrifice in order to present change this would be the dumbest method ever used. Coming to a foreign country to present a foreign problem by violence really misses the audience. I can not say that anyone is real enthusiastic about immigrants, Chechen politics or their radical beliefs. No one was on one side or another before but even less likely then ever to care after this. American are powerless to even petition there government today or even be represented. Why would you pick on a marathon, its about the only good thing we have left in this country. We need more Gahndis, Nelson Mandelas and Martin Luthers. Most of all we need enough people who can focus on one problem at a time and create a better World.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 23 months ago from Essex, UK

Hi junkseller. It's been a long time since the Boston bombings so this comment is not exactly topical with regard to that, although of course the same regrettable cycle of human violence and human retribution continues around the world and perhaps always will. Tthe broader issue sadly remains relevant.

Reading the exchanges with WillStarr, I must admit I am in two minds about the ethics and actions of the West on the one hand and Islamic terrorists on the other. As I think you know, on most issues of democracy and violence - notably gun violence - I tend to think similarly to you. And certainly I can agree totally with your comments relating to 'tears for the dead on one side and ignorance of the dead on the other.' An innocent life is an innocent life, and the death of an Iraqi or Afghan child is no less of a tragedy than the loss of an American child. We should never forget that, and American (and British) leaders, military and media would be well advised to remember it.

I can also agree that there may be a certain futility in our interventions in the Islamic nations. Is Iraq any better now than it was under Sadaam? It is 'democratic', but with the advent of the Islamic State, will it remain so? In crude terms are more people living 'happy or content lives' before or after the war? One wonders too about the future of Afghanistan as Western troops withdraw. Whether or not one is cynical or accepting of the good intentions of Western intervention, it may not make any difference to the net result - they say 'the road to Hell is paved with good intentions'.

Which brings me to the second point on which I think I do disagree. I think I can side with WillStarr regarding moral equivalency. I do feel that intentions are profoundly different on the two sides, even if the net result (violence and death of innocent people) is the same. The world view is different. Democratic thinkers believe in freedom of expression and the right to self-determination (as long as that self-determination does not threaten us). I'm not sure the world view of Islamic terrorists is comparable. They have a belief system and some at least would wish to impose that belief on others. They are not be content to let others hold different views. (That is not an anti-Moslem sentiment - I would feel the same way about extreme fundamentalist Christian beliefs).

I guess to return to an earlier phrase I used regarding ethics and actions, I do believe that the basic Western ethic in these foreign interventions IS morally different to that of Islamic terrorist individuals and organisations. Whether the actions are any better in terms of the end result of misery and suffering, is more debateable. I am content to see future Western intervention in that part of the world, though perhaps it needs to be less knee-jerk and short term, and much more considered and judicious than has sometimes been the case in the past.

Despite some disagreement on certain points, I nonetheless feel that the article is very thought provoking and worth reading for what it says about the values we place on human life according to where that life happens to exist. Alun

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