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Piobair
07:42 PM on 04/23/2013
"Despite all appearances, no one is really evil.They are led astray by ignorance.If you ponder this truth always you will offer more light, rather than blame and condemnation."
The Dammavadaka

If as Shunryu Suzuki roshi said; "There are, strictly speaking, no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity", there are also no evil people, only evil activity, stemming from hatred, ignorance, and delusion. We all possess the nature of the Buddha, no matter how deeply some people have buried it. I grieve for the suffering of their victims, yet I refuse to hate them, as Martin Luther King said, "adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

May all beings without exception transcend suffering and attain enlightenment...even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
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researcher
05:15 AM on 04/24/2013
These are valid quotes. thanks for sharing them.
05:36 PM on 04/24/2013
I wish everyone would read this. I also wish people wouldn't hate based on religion, but that's not likely to happen.
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SouthernLander
... and the end of all our exploring...
06:54 PM on 04/23/2013
Compassion is a widely misunderstood concept and this inability to grasp the core ideal can result in a kind of sentimentalized apologism. True compassion is clear-eyed. It sees the brokenness of the world and the suffering of both the perpetrator and the victim. But in that clarity of vision it also understands that actions have consequences which must be dealt with.

As compassionate people, we are called upon to offer humane treatment to all, including those who would not offer us the same respect. This young man is a very damaged individual, but that is a matter for mental health professionals, not the twittering classes.

While forgiveness heals the one who forgives, it is far too soon to suggest that those whose lives have literally been blown apart, should immediately exude sweetness and light towards those responsible. Healing takes time and we do the victims and their loved ones a profound disservice if we focus on the plight of the perpetrator while innocents have died or have suffered physical and emotional trauma that will have a permanent effect on their lives.
05:41 PM on 04/24/2013
The original writer does not seem to know the difference between compassion, empathy and forgiveness.

It probably seems attractive to have a "righteous anger", but after time, it's usually shown to be just an ugly bias.

Based on the original post, if you don't have a right to forgive unless you are one of the people who were physically harmed, then you don't have the right to be full of anger, bias and hatred, either.
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SouthernLander
... and the end of all our exploring...
10:28 PM on 04/24/2013
Anger tends to arise as a consequence of fear.  However, if it is not met and metabolized, bias and hatred can fester as a result. The important thing is to honour the feelings as they present themselves, but not succumb to the self-righteousness that can emerge as a defense mechanism. There are natural processes which are necessary to the integration of severe trauma, but these are often thwarted if people do not have the essential resources or awareness.
06:36 PM on 04/23/2013
"Evil is a cancer." Sure. I'll agree to that.

But are people a cancer? If my lungs have a mass of tissue that grows uncontrollably, do I become that mass? Can I not have an identity outside of my existence as a cancer-stricken individual?

I do believe in evil. I do believe it is a problem that must be fought. But to fight it irrespective of the humanity of the person committing the evil acts would be like a doctor removing a pair of lungs to take out the mass. No terrorist should be seen as nothing more than their act. Because if we are willing to ignore the complexity of humanity in the interest of condemning bombings, we are probably also willing to ignore the complexity of humanity when we view ourselves. And I am not a terrorist so I must not be a cancer. Yet I, like everyone else, have evil in my life. I am no different than a bomber except in action. And if I want my humanity, I have to recognize it in the lives of everyone around me. If I do not want to lose the fight against the evil inside me, I cannot ignore it. That means I understand my own complexity, for good and for evil. And if I understand my complexity, I can understand that a terrorist is a complex human, not a cancer. I don't have to ignore the reality of evil to say that.
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see-ellen2001
06:04 PM on 04/23/2013
Bravo. This is spot on. It sure is easy to flaunt your 'righteousness' when you are NOT lying in a hospital bed or choosing a casket. He was young but old enough to know indiscrimnent killing and maiming is wrong. Period. The cult of forgiveness can be a twisted fetish.
05:50 PM on 04/23/2013
Forgiveness is not mine to give or even offer. I was not harmed by the actions of the Tsarnaev's. I believe I am called to pray for the victims as well as those who caused harm. It's not an easy task.
05:48 PM on 04/23/2013
There is a difference between forgiveness and absolution. The two suspects should not be absolved of their crimes. They should be held accountable for their actions regardless of what led them to commit them. I fear,however, by not forgiving we run the risk of stalling the healing or the movement away from the fear and anguish to the wholeness and prevention.

Most importantly, everyone has to decide for themselves how or when to forgive these guys regardless of how close or far they are away from the epicenter.

We must not confuse vengeance with justice and we must not confuse forgiveness with forgetfulness.
05:43 PM on 04/23/2013
A lot of us talking forgiveness are not saying that the bombers were not evil. Of course they did evil. Of course what they did was inexcusable. Of course what they did was beyond horrifying. Forgiveness has nothing to do with patting someone on the shoulder and murmuring "there, there, you're not such a bad sort" to a sociopath.

I think it is in human nature to reach for explanations because our history as a species has taught us that sometimes, such understanding can afford opportunity for prevention. In the wake of so many young men with their whole lives ahead of them, young men full of potential, but with such profound mental and emotional problems - of all religions and no religion - shooting kindergarteners and blowing up marathoners, I think it behooves us to try to figure out what the freak is going on and try to prevent it. Fix it. Cure it.

And yes, I will say that Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, the Tsarnaeva brothers - they are tragic figures as well as monstrous ones.
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alieninthecaribbean
Trini to the bone. Global heart and soul
05:32 PM on 04/23/2013
Forgiveness has nothing to do with letting a person off the hook, absolving them of their repsonsibilities for their actions. And teaching people that this is what forgiveness is has been instrumental in creating the opposite- the most unforgiving society imaginable, full of grudge-holding, revenge seeking, eye for an eye blind so always having the WRONG focus and creating more injustice in the process.

After 911 at the concert for heroes, Richard Gere tried to talk about forgiveness and got booed. But I wish the largely Christian audience knew the big difference between his Buddhist take on forgiveness and their impractical, innaccurate "absolution" take on it.

Forgiveness is about freeing YOURSELF not the one who wronged you, from the burden of hurt, and betrayal. It takes tremendous spiritual power to do it. Doing it does not mean not pressing charges, or not seeking justice or lending money to the one who never repaid or maintaining a relationship with the one who hurt you.

But it will make you choose your next actions from a sense of true power and enlightenment instead of wounded pride or fear. If we had in fact taken a moment after 911 to assess, heal, regroup, we would not have been so easily exploited; our wounded pride and fear used to sell us a stupid war. We would have been very clear about what was the next action to take and it would have been smart and successful.
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Elad Nehorai
12:28 AM on 04/24/2013
All very nice and good, except, as I said, it's not our place to forgive. You and I aren't the victims or the families of the victims.

I wonder if you, or anyone else here talking up the beauty of forgiveness, would give your speech to the victims. It's all very nice to talk about in theory, but we don't have to deal with the repercussions of the attack. We are observers.
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alieninthecaribbean
Trini to the bone. Global heart and soul
09:47 AM on 04/24/2013
I understand that perfectly and I was not contesting that at all.  Mine was a side note on the general approach people take to forgiveness, which would be helpful to those directly affected by the tragedy. And thanks again for the article.  
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Anybodyseenthepopos
אני כלום בלעדיהם
09:49 AM on 04/24/2013
We are not those direct victims, but we are victims as well. We have been shocked, scared, and scarred. Our psyche's have been permanently altered. In many cases, our sense of personal security has been permanently shaken and stolen from us.

That is the evil intent of terror. To victimize the entire society, and in so doing, literally terrorize them into acceding to demands, however vague, generalized, or politically specific they may be.

At some point, a discussion of understanding and empathy are worthwhile; for these two, as many others are tools of those who indoctrinate people to commit evil acts in the name of God. THAT is unforgivable. That people are malleable and able to be manipulated by destructive heinous ideologues is where a conversation of forgiveness will have a legitimate place in future conversation.

But, It is WAY to early to even broach the subject. None of that can appropriately take place until the actor acknowledges the wrongs of his actions. Because until he does so, from the heart, he is the ideologue bent on societal destruction.
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LintLass
"When you can balance a tackhammer on your head...
04:48 PM on 04/23/2013
I'm also kind of 'meh' about certain preachers falling all over each other to 'forgive' something. It's not the only alternative to vendetta or flailing about calling people 'evil,' though.

Evil's a word that in my Pagan faith, we're very careful about when we point fingers about. "Evil to him who thinks 'evil.' "

The wrongs done, the cowardice, the dishonor, the atrocity here... Are obvious. Evil deed, anyone might say.

Frankly, if the kid had 'evil intent' or was just a *dupe* doesn't make it any more or less acceptable, or 'forgiveness' being anything that's on the table before the kid even *asks* it of those he maimed.

Frankly, in Bostonian terms, this whole thing don't even relate. Even for Christians, 'forgiveness' is a long road ahead, if he chooses. 'Evil' is no existential excuse. Being a *dupe* is no excuse. Nothing's an excuse. There *is* no excuse. Everybody knows this.

'Forgiveness' ain't even on the table until it's asked for and maybe earned, not that this kid has a right to even *try* earning anything he can't do from a small cell. Sounds cold, I know.

But this is Boston, not Evangelical religious broadcasting. Even for Christians it ain't cool to presume to beat your breast and *forgive* unless *you* are the one who'd otherwise have right of vengeance. This is one reason we value the rule of *law.* Not theology. Not in that way.
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rbnjne
No more litters, fix your critters.
04:18 PM on 04/23/2013
It is true that the only people that should be afforded the decision to forgive are the people that were directly affected by the bombing.

Anger has two sides to it. It can be constructive or it can be destructive. In this case constructive anger can be used to try to figure out how we can stop or at the least limit these acts of terror. Find out who all is involved etc. Be it from a foreign land or home grown. Destructive anger in this particular case results in blaming a whole group of people for the act of a few. It blinds people from truly seeking a constructive way to deal with the situation and outrage one projects towards the people that have no desire for anything but a peaceful life here or abroad.

Evil does exist,but we must find a constructive way to combat it. Not just blanket our anger and outrage to a whole group.
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Elad Nehorai
05:30 PM on 04/23/2013
Of course, agreed 100%. The problem is that many people seem to think that by not forgiving or not excusing an act like murder, that we are angry. No, that doesn't necessarily follow, and it shouldn't follow.

In other words, we have to deal with it in our own way internally, process it, and move on. But excusing or "forgiving" these men, we aren't really doing that. We're trying to avoid the issue completely, not deal with it, file it away as something that's not something terrible when it is. We need to be able to accept that something is terrible without allowing it to destroy us internally. It can be done.
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09:46 PM on 04/23/2013
You are conflating excusing and forgiving. They are not the same thing.
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rbnjne
No more litters, fix your critters.
10:04 PM on 04/23/2013
Yes, I do agree with you. When we humans deny the hurt and anger and essentially pretend to forgive (even though we don't realize we're pretending) is why the psychiatry business as well as correctional institutions are alive and well. Many times those emotions that are not dealt with come out in many other ways. One of the problems with religion, that I have is that they really push for forgiveness to early. Forgiveness is possible but not until one has processed the wrong doing and gone through the grieving period.  People should be allowed to have all of their emotions even anger as long as it does not cause more harm. Anger is a part of the grieving period. But a person should try not to stay stuck in that anger unless they can turn it into a constructive good.
Thank you for addressing my post.
03:50 PM on 04/23/2013
There is a lot that is right here, but there is also a lot that is superficial. We know how to cure this disease and the answer is to fight? Like we did in Iraq (which latest reports indicate the bomber is claiming was what motivated this attack. I don't know if that is true, but if it is that would not make it unique.)

This column gets the letter that it starts out opposing almost completely wrong. The point of the deacon was that not hating him is the way to fight him. That might be right or wrong, but he does more to spell out his vision of how to fight it than you do here.

Of course there is something pathetic in anyone trying to make Tsarnaev into a victim. But the basic message of the people writing about forgiveness is that they are going to beat him by not letting him change who they are. They might go so far as saying that responding to him with hate is what it is for the cancer to spread.

So you haven't really addressed the more serious of the people that you criticize here. You may have won the reddit battle.
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KateShansky
Nondescript self-amuser
03:24 PM on 04/23/2013
For a while there, reading the article, I thought that it was written in a sarcastic tone, after all, everyone wants to forgive. But by the final sentence, I decided that maybe it was written in a serious spirit, at least mostly. Anyway, I think being forgiving to terrorists is indeed the wrong direction to go, at least for those who were not directly victimized. It isn't the ordinary citizen's place to forgive the faraway terrorist act. If my neighbor were to be killed or wounded by a cold-blooded criminal, I haven't the right to forgive the shooter for his heinous actions.

But I think it is the place of ordinary citizens to speak out honestly -but not angrily or vengefully- concerning the causes, and motives of the terrorism, not to mention remedies, to prevent more of us from becoming victims.
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Elad Nehorai
08:55 PM on 04/23/2013
Agreed 100%.
02:39 PM on 04/23/2013
Right on. Both conservatives and liberals dwell on extenuating circumstances for perpetuators who are not their ideological enemy, but not for their ideological enemies. This all-encompassing ideological conflict poisons public discussions and decision making. Each side needs to look in the mirror and realize their image looks just like those on the other side.
01:45 PM on 04/23/2013
So, what advice do you have for all the people who knew the suspect personally, all of whom have said he DID appear absolutely, completely normal and harmless? Some of whom stated they would testify on his behalf. Sweet, kind, laidback, funny... the list of adjectives used to describe him do not contain one negative term. Are they to immediately hate him as well?

It's not that hard to figure out why not everyone is brandishing pitchforks and spewing hate and unforgivingness at the younger suspect. And, until acquaintances step forward with anything more horrific than smoking pot or getting bad grades, they will continue to be baffled, confused, and unhateful toward him. Not sure I would call that 'empathy'.

The only people who appear to be unforgiving and hateful at this point are those who coincidentally make it clear that they hate Muslims, Islam, or those hating anything not Christian. It is clear why those people bristle at the thought of forgiveness- they hate anyone who is Muslim, whether terrorist or not. Hatred is evil.

Finally, you aren't in charge of who deserves forgivingness or not. You are not the determiner of who is evil or not. Taking innocent lives to further a religious doctrine is carried out by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, and every other people of a religion with no tolerance for and hatred against another religion. Why aren't all of those people rightly being called evil as well?
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Elijah Hathaway
08:33 PM on 04/23/2013
"Taking innocent lives to further a religious doctrine is carried out by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, and every other people of a religion with no tolerance for and hatred against another religion. Why aren't all of those people rightly being called evil as well? "

Really poor argument, he was speaking mainly of this case because it just happened (shocking I know), but he also referred to murder in general plenty of times. And you don't have to be a Christian or someone who hates Muslims to hate this kid and not feel sorry for him, it's not even close to an "either or" scenario.
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Elad Nehorai
08:41 PM on 04/23/2013
Nowhere in my post did I advise people to hate the suspects. You don't have to hate someone to understand that you shouldn't excuse them committing mass murder.

It bothers me deeply that people interpret this article as encouraging people to "brandish pitchforks", "spew hate", and even "hating Muslims".

That's not at all what this article was about, and your comment, as well as others I've seen, creates a false dichotomy, immediately assuming that refusing to excuse murder means that we must hate a person or even an entire religion. G-d forbid.

No, what this article is arguing for is realizing that we can't let people off the hook just because we heard some nice things about them. Someone that murdered an eight year old and two others as well as blowing the legs off of so many others... that person does not deserve sympathy...

Who deserves sympathy? The victims. The child and his family. The family of the other victims. The people injured. Those people deserve our sympathy, and when people rush to defend the suspects, they are immediately degrading any sympathy they have for the victims.

These discussions remind me of a famous Jewish saying from the Talmud: "Those who are kind to the cruel will eventually become cruel to the kind." Mark my words, if we continue on the path we are going, these words will come true. For some, they already have.