Friday, April 19, 2013

Crying a River

Earlier today, when I was watching the coverage on the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, I was struck by how young Dzhokar Tsarnaev is.  He's a kid.  You know mine is almost 16, and that's hardly younger than this guy was.  The news stories are probably unreliable at this point, but it appears he was in the United States with his older brother, and his parents haven't lived here (but in Russia) for at least five years.  So he was without a parent from ages 14 - 19. Yikes.  You don't have to know a lot about teenagers to know that they need parents at that age.  Desperately.  And of course all I can do is speculate how he got from there to the terrible events of last Monday, but whatever happened in his life that charted this course breaks my heart.  He's someone's son, and someone's brother, and someone's friend.  From all accounts, he appeared to be a really nice kid, by those who knew him, and many were shocked that he was capable of such atrocity.

Dzhokar and his brother hurt a lot of people, and I have faith in the justice system that he will pay for his crimes.  He may feel remorse, or he may not.  Whatever poison he feeds on may have already destroyed his conscience.  I most likely will never know.  Doesn't mean I can't pray for him.

I grieve for those who are injured and have lost their lives.  I laud the first responders who worked tirelessly to keep their city safe.  Their systems appear to be absolutely flawless; they executed this beautifully.  They turned around the situation inside of four days.  That's incredible and I am in awe, and appreciation, as is the rest of the country.

I feel pretty comfortable with all the thoughts I just shared with you.  I have learned that my heart is divided into emotional chambers.  There is room for kindness, and appreciation, and compassion.  But for some reason, there is very little room for anger, and almost none for vengeance.  I don't feel those easily and they are often shoved out by sadness. And because they have such a small chamber, I feel it quickly and express it and move on.

I am not telling you this because I'm looking for affirmation.  I'm not telling you this because I need to be reassured.  I don't want you to tell me that I'm anything special.  I am simply who God made me to be.  And I live my convictions pretty loudly for one reason:  Jesus loved everyone and He told me to as well.

I tell you all this because all of that empathy gets me into a lot of trouble.  Man.  Some people do not like the construction of my heart.  And maybe because I don't get angry, they assume that I don't get hurt.  They would be very, very wrong.

I just spent 15 minutes sobbing in the captain's arms after I received a hate-filled message from a facebook friend, in which he swore at me and told me, among other things, that I'm what's wrong with America.  I've been called many names in my life, and I know I'm a liberal progressive.  I know sometimes people mean that as an insult, and I've taken it that way when expressed as such.  But I sort of love being that, you know.

I love politics.  I think that civil discourse actually leads to resolution.  Not always, but often enough that the conversations are worth having.  I realize that I put myself out there.  It's worth it.  So many people have taught me so many things.  Knowing a lot of different kinds of people has forced me to be more tolerant.  I plan to continue having those conversations in the future, so here's what I want you to know:  You are free to leave.  No one is obligated to be my friend, either in real life or virtually.  If I am a negative influence in your life, please, please walk away before you hurt me.  I'm not saying this because I am being a baby.  I felt critically attacked several times this week, and I really don't want to do it again.  I will miss you, but I respect your decision.  If you don't believe me, ask the number of people who have previously taken advantage of this invitation.  No hard feelings, baby.  No regrets.  (Wait.  Never mind.  You get my point.)

Seriously, no apologies.  I hope I don't make things worse.  I sure like you people and my life would be so much different, and so much more boring without you.  Please keep sharing your thoughts and challenging me.  You make me better.  Thank you from the bottom of my emotional heart.


Emily said...

Leanne, I'm definitely staying put :) I appreciate all your opinions. I think if the world was just filed with compassion, respect and thoughtfulness we'd make a lot of progress. All too often it's filled with hate, disrespect and vengeance. I hope your weekend is wonderful and not marred by the hurt you've experienced this week.

Joy Summers said...

I kept thinking the same thing. How did this well-liked kid do this? What happened to him? He's just a kid! Why? That's what drives me crazy - why?

I also don't understand why someone would approach you under the guise of friend to spew such venom, with the well-chosen words that someone who knows you can inflict. It's hard enough that we are all grieving - and grief is brutal enough.

You helped me when I was grieving. You drove over two hours with all of your kids and your wonderful husband and you held me in your arms, tears in your eyes and told me you were sorry. I don't EVER want that beautiful, tender heart of yours to change.

Thank you for sharing this will us.

ethiopifinn said...

My husband and I had an interesting conversation last night about immigrants, especially children/teens. The majority, it seems, get lost in between the new culture and the home culture in this unsteady place where they do not belong. Anywhere. So when something appears, like gangs, like religion, like fanaticism, it is easy for them to identify. It's a loss for everyone, when there isn't sufficient support.
My husband was blessed to be so adjustable and adventurous.

And, I love you.

Marie-Louise said...

Very well written, Leanne. Very well written.

I miss words, again, really ought to get better at English. Anyways, bottomline: I admire your strength and courage. Have to say it again: I really admire your strength and courage.
(I happen to agree with you on most issues, but that's beside the point in this case.)
And how very lucky you are having such a supportive husband, give him a hug and a THANKS from me :-)

Love, Marie-Louise

Diane Lindquist said...


I am so sad to hear about the venom sprayed at you. You are without a doubt one of the kindest, most thoughtful and fair people I know.

I, too, admire your willingness to try & engage all sorts of people in meaningful dialogue about the issues we all face in our hurting world. Sadly, not everyone's heart (or mind) is formed with such compassion. We all are grieving - from an eroding sense of security and the pain of such meaningless loss of life. Some turn that grief into care, concern, and a renewed search for solutions. Others, sadly, turn that grief into rage and attack whoever is handy. I'm sorry you were a victim of this misplaced rage.

I also was deeply struck by the young age of the 2nd suspect. With sons who are young men not too much older than he, I too agree that strong, loving parents throughout the teenage years are utterly crucial. I wonder if your so-called "friend" who attacked you so cruelly has it in their heart to reach out to an alienated teen and spend the countless hours of difficult (and generally thankless) care to help someone else out of a pit of adolescent despair?

In my opinion, you are exactly what is RIGHT with our country. Do not change one bit, and know you have ardent supporters in your brave quest for connection.

I love you!