Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Nineteen years old. An entire life ahead of him and now nothing. I have found myself really feeling for this guy as the day went on, now knowing that he was hunkered down in a boat. When the images of him started to be rolled out, it was hard not to see a life that had so much possibility come to an end; either it would end by death or arrest.
Although none of us have any idea what was going through his mind the past days, we almost have to force ourselves to put ourselves in his place. It appears he was not the master-mind behind this operation; his brother had that role, which leaves Dzhokar a follower. At least for the past twenty-four hours he has been forced to live in isolation, in a boat, in someone else’s backyard, wounded. He had nowhere to turn. No friend. No one, now that the brother was gone, to bounce any of this off of; no one to lead him. In a world that thrives on being connected, he has been totally disconnected. Was there ever a moment during this time where he had an awakening and simply lived in fear, praying to bleed to death? Was there a time when he woke up to the fact that his brother had led him down a path, and he had become so disillusioned and invested in the darkened path, of killing others that he had known nothing else; a man living two separate lives? Did he wonder how he got here? What has happened? How do I get out of this now? I could only imagine what he had thought the hours that he spent lying in that boat.
What’s most important for us as human beings to be reminded of, is that his physical wounds are simply the external of a much deeper wound in this young man’s life. At nineteen, young men like him have their entire lives ahead of them; he seemed to go about his business after the bombings. Maybe he had thought he had done nothing wrong or had gotten away with it all. It’s all simply trying to get into the mind and heart of this young man.
The time in the boat may have been a time to reflect upon his brokenness and wounded humanity, and now where does it leave him? Where does it leave us? No most of us will never know what it is really like to be Dzhokar, but because of our shared humanity, we are forced into the conundrum of justice and mercy. God knows he probably needs compassion more than anything. He needs someone to love him and hold him. He needs someone to assure him, in the larger picture of life, things will be ok. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to have face the reality of the consequences of his sinfulness, but as humans, who are also wounded in our own way, must not seek revenge, but rather justice. There is a system that helps us do that. But as fellow brothers and sisters of this young man, we must first seek healing, reconciliation, understanding, mercy, and most importantly, compassion for someone who’s soul has spent time lost and wounded. We may never know what would possess someone to do what him and his brother had done, but we do understand what it is like to be lost and wounded; and when we are there, we too, just like him lying in that boat all alone, know, that all we need is to be loved.